City Council becoming more proactive in budget

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A budget resolution before the City Council next week reflects a new “proactive” way of conducting business at City Hall, council President Tony Young said Thursday.

In comments to reporters, Young called the resolution “historic” because the council has never before told the Mayor's Office what it wants to see in advance of his proposed budget. The council has always been a “reactive body” in the past, taking up the budget plan after it has been issued, he said.

Young said the budget resolution will suggest scores of ways to solve San Diego's structural deficit collected from political, business and labor leaders and residents since 2009.

Mayor Jerry Sanders has pegged the shortfall for the 2011-12 budget to be $56.7 million.

The City Council will decide Tuesday which of the remaining suggestions will be included in the resolution. Sanders is expected to release his proposed budget later next week.

“I suspect some of these ideas will be in his original budget (proposal),” Young said.

Those that aren't could be inserted in May, he said.

The main provisions of the council's resolution will reduce the shortfall to about $15 to $20 million without sacrificing essential services, according to Young.

The council has been focusing on becoming more efficient in city operations without raising taxes or cutting more services. Increased sales tax and other revenues have added about $10 million to city coffers, but Young said costs have increased.

One priority of the council, he said, is to restore at least some of the fire engines that were taken out of service this year to save around $11 million.

Other budget priorities to be aired at Tuesday's council meeting are preserving public safety, limiting service and staff reductions at libraries and recreation centers, and finding money to reduce a backlog of capital funding for major construction or maintenance projects.

Sanders has generally been supportive of the council's efforts regarding the budget. In numerous statements on budget issues in the past, the mayor has said he welcomes ideas that help solve chronic budget deficits.

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