City Council considers revisions to Mayor Faulconer’s budget proposal
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Proposed revisions to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s $3.6 billion budget plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 are scheduled to be formally presented to the San Diego City Council Thursday.
The modifications, announced Tuesday by the mayor, address two of the most controversial areas of the budget — police officer recruiting and retention, and arts funding.
The San Diego Police Department is losing about 13 officers a month and is around 200 below what’s allowed in the budget, according to police Chief Shelley Zimmerman. Previous moves by the mayor and City Council in the last couple of years have failed to stem the tide.
Faulconer’s so-called "May Revise" includes $150,000 to fund a recruiting and retention study, something that City Council members had requested.
In a statement, Brian Marvel of the San Diego Police Officers Association said the city spending plan doesn’t address the SDPD’s personnel woes or an inability to consistently meet minimum patrol staffing levels, which he called "an immediate and growing consequence of low staffing."
In arts funding, the mayor restored more than half of $4.7 million originally cut from the Commission on Arts and Culture, which provides financial support to groups around San Diego, including luminaries like the Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse and Balboa Park museums.
Supporters of arts funding contend it has a high return on investment, with programs attracting tourists to the city. Funding for the commission comes from hotel room taxes.
The arts reduction was the largest in a proposed budget squeezed by a large increase in the city’s required contribution to the employee pension system — a result of retirees living longer and a weak investment performance.
The mayor was able to use money left over from the current fiscal year and higher projections of property tax revenue to make the adjustments. The mayor also applied an extra $10.3 million to reserves to prepare for an even tighter budget expected next year.