Fate of Prop D finally in hands of voters

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Voters in San Diego will decide Tuesday whether to approve a measure that would raise the city's sales tax by a half-cent for the next five years if a series of changes to the city's pension and finances are made first.

If Proposition D is approved, the sales tax in San Diego would go from 8.75 cents to 9.25 cents and generate about $102 million annually for the city's general fund.

Before the tax could be levied, the independent city auditor would have to certify that 10 other benchmarks — related to city pensions, retiree health care obligations and outsourcing — have been met.

Four of those changes have already been adopted by the San Diego City Council.

Supporters of Proposition D argue the new revenue is needed to maintain and restore city services.

Mayor Jerry Sanders has projected a budget shortfall for San Diego of $72 million next fiscal year.

Sanders has cautioned that without added revenue, there will be “draconian” cuts to services, including public safety.

To help close the anticipated spending shortfall, city departments have proposed laying off firefighters, instituting more “brownouts” of fire engine companies, the loss of 169 sworn police officers, closing libraries or trimming hours of operation, shuttering recreation centers and pools and less park maintenance.

“Failure to maintain priority funding for law enforcement and public safety will have direct and irreversible impact on every resident of our city,” Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers Association, recently told the City Council.

Opponents, led by Councilman Carl DeMaio, accuse Sanders and other proponents of using scare tactics to frighten the public into voting for the tax increase by threatening public safety cuts.

They insist the budget gap could be closed by eliminating wasteful spending at City Hall, overhauling the pension system and streamlining municipal finances.

“This does not end the cycle of cuts, the cycle of coming back and asking for more money from working families,” DeMaio said. “It will only perpetuate it.”

A recent poll by The San Diego Union-Tribune found that voters in the city are split on Proposition D.

Also on the ballot in San Diego is Proposition B, which would amend the city charter to require that “good cause” be established before a deputy city attorney, who has served for at least two years, could be suspended or terminated.

The measure was put on the ballot largely in response to the tenure of former City Attorney Michael Aguirre, who fired or forced out dozens of deputy city attorneys when he took office.

Proposition C would allow for the completion of the Pacific Highlands Ranch development in Carmel Valley. When it was first approved by voters in 1998, restrictions were placed on the development until a freeway interchange from southbound Interstate 5 to state Route 56 has been completed, something Caltrans says won't happen until at least 2020.

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