Council sends mayor list of potential budget cuts

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Two San Diego City Council members unveiled a proposal Tuesday that they said would save taxpayers nearly $47 million in the fiscal year starting in July.

Council President Tony Young and Councilman David Alvarez, offering ways to cut next year's projected budget deficit of $56.7 million, suggested:
      — getting rid of cellular phones for non-emergency personnel;
      — reducing supplies and contracts by 7 percent;
      — ending commercial trash pickup;
      — selling under-used real estate assets; and
      — eliminating 125 vacant positions.

The plan borrows from other proposals already floated to solve the city's budget woes, including ideas brought forth by Councilman Carl DeMaio and a citizen's task force that pegs budget deficit for next year at $130 million.

“I am pleased that many of the items result in savings beyond fiscal year 2012, which could lower our budget deficits over the next five years and projects a surplus by 2015,” Young said. “Further, incorporating this savings plan into the 2012 budget would result in no reduction in services to the public.”

The councilmen said they would not have to go through the “meet and confer” process with municipal employee unions before adopting the provisions.

A copy of the plan was sent to Mayor Jerry Sanders, who is expected to release his budget proposal next month.

“As the mayor has said all along, he welcomes all good ideas — whether from a member of the City Council or a member of the public — that would help address the city's budget challenges during these difficult economic times,” said Darren Pudgil, a spokesman for Sanders. “The mayor will take them into consideration as he prepares his budget.”

Many of the provisions were included by council members in directing the City Attorney to draft a resolution that specifies the panel's budget intentions. The council hopes to approve a final resolution before the mayor releases his budget proposal.

Alvarez said in a memo that cutting out cell phones for non-emergency departments could save $700,000. Joan Raymond, president of the employee union that represents many of the city's blue-ollar workers, told the council the idea could result in lowered productivity.

A 7 percent cut to supplies and contracts would save $9.24 million, according to Alvarez.

The sale of city-owned property that is not used very much could raise funds to pay for $6.1 million of bonds in the general fund, he said, adding that eliminating the vacant positions would free up $8 million.

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