Mayor Faulconer uses veto powers to restore funding for special election
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Mayor Kevin Faulconer used his veto powers Friday to make several changes to the proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget, including increasing election funding and adding funds to boost police officer recruitment and retention efforts.
Mayor Faulconer is urging the City Council to call a special election in November so the public can vote on two time-sensitive initiatives. The first is a tourism measure that would modernize and expand the Convention Center — a project that is seeing construction costs rise by $3.6 million per month — and create dedicated funding streams to address San Diego’s homeless crisis and fix streets.
The second is a citizens’ initiative to bring Major League Soccer to San Diego, build a river park and redevelop the Qualcomm Stadium site at no cost to taxpayers. A third-party appraisal released Tuesday valued the Mission Valley properties at $110 million, an amount that would generate millions of dollars in annual revenue for the City when leased at fair market value.
“Several city councilmembers, who have publicly supported the convention center expansion, fixing our streets and helping the homeless, are being squeezed by their political backers to kill these ballot measures. I urge them to vote their conscience, use this restored funding to call a special election and let the public have the final say,” Mayor Faulconer said. “Make no mistake about it, this is one of the most consequential votes this City Council will ever take. This City Council can stand in the way of progress or give voters the chance to create more jobs, fix our roads, reduce homelessness and build a world-class development that will generate millions of dollars for neighborhood services and public safety.”
Mayor Faulconer included $5 million in his proposed budget for election funding, but the City Council voted Monday to remove that funding. The mayor’s veto makes various other modifications, including shifting funding from some City Council budgets and projected FY2017 budget surplus to the Police Department retention program. The use of those funds, totaling $1 million, will be determined through discussions with the Police Officers Association.
The council has five business days to consider overriding the mayor’s action, which would require six votes, but four of the nine members support holding the election.
“I believe it would have been prudent to set aside the funding for a special election, and deliberate about the merits of a November special election at a future date,” said Councilmember Cate. “That is why I support the Mayor’s decision to use his veto power, and restore special election funding, so we may have a full discussion in the coming weeks.”
“I do not believe cutting funding for a special election is the best way to address concerns about SoccerCity and the Convention Center expansion,” said Councilmember Kersey. “I support the Mayor’s use of veto authority to replace the $5 million in the budget for a potential special election, so that this option can be vetted separately in the coming weeks. The public deserves the opportunity to weigh-in and have meaningful, standalone debates on major civic decisions.”
“The Convention Center expansion is a top priority for San Diego’s economic prosperity and I fully support the Mayor’s veto authority to grow this economic engine,” said Councilmember Zapf. “Despite a tough budget year, due to the unexpected increase in the pension payment, I am pleased we have been able to avoid cuts to important services like public safety, libraries and parks, recreation programs and road improvements.”
The City Charter grants the mayor the authority to “approve, veto, or modify any line item approved by the Council.” The City Council has five business days to override any vetoes or modifications made by the mayor. Any item in the proposed budget that was vetoed or otherwise modified by the mayor shall remain as vetoed or modified unless overridden by the Council.
The City Council will consider calling a November 2017 special election and whether to place the tourism measure on that ballot on Monday, June 12. A week later, on Monday, June 19, the City Council will consider the “SoccerCity” initiative.
“The City Council and I are united in supporting our police officers, who maximize their resources every day to keep our neighborhoods safe. The councilmembers who made the motion to amend my budget proposal said they wanted more resources for police, so I have reallocated funding from their office budgets for that very purpose,” said Mayor Faulconer, who had already reduced his office budget by 4.2 percent for FY2018. “This additional funding will help us keep the best officers working at SDPD to protect the people of San Diego.”
The following are Mayor Faulconer’s budget modifications:
- Modification: $5 million increase to the Citywide Election Fund
- Line-item veto budget reduction: $5 million from the Qualcomm Stadium Operations Fund as there is already adequate funding for the next two years of payments for Qualcomm Stadium debt service
- Modification: $1 million to enhance the Police Department retention program
- Line-item veto budget reductions: $580,780 in unallocated discretionary funding from City Council Districts 1 and 3, the two offices with the most unallocated funds; $94,015 from a 3.5 percent reduction (in line with reductions requested of all City departments and a 4.2 percent reduction in the Office of the Mayor) to the budgets for City Council Districts 1 and 3; and $325,205 from the projected surplus in the current year budget
- Modification: $413,000 for San Diego Police Department’s Non-Personnel Expenditures to be utilized for facility improvements
- Line-item veto budget reduction: $413,000 added by the City Council for the Bay Bridge Community Center roof project as it already has adequate funding in the budget to keep it on track for completion and unnecessarily diverting funds would violate the City’s cash management reforms as approved by the City Council
- Modification: $66,086 to bolster San Diego Housing Commission’s homeless prevention and diversion program
- Line-item veto budget reduction: $66,086 for a consultant for the newly-formed Homeless Committee as this temporary group is only scheduled to meet four times and sunset in 2018. The committee may not be tasked with the additional workload of recommending the use of millions of dollars in annual homeless service funding should the proposed tourism measure be delayed, and therefore does not require additional staffing
Climate Action Plan
- Modification: $200,000 to expand San Diego’s urban tree canopy to support Climate Action Plan efforts
- Line-item veto budget reduction: $200,000 added by the City Council for implementation of a Community Choice Energy Program is not appropriate to include in the budget at this time, as the Economic Development Department is still evaluating next steps to achieve 100 percent renewable energy. Funding will be allocated once a final decision has been made on a 100 percent renewable strategy
- Modification: $500,000 in one-time funding for the City Attorney’s Office for services related to mayoral and City Council priorities such as homelessness, Climate Action Plan and labor issues
- Line-item veto budget reduction: $500,000 added by the City Council for expansion of the “Get It Done” application as it can be expanded using existing staff and resources