Mayor’s proposed budget to be reviewed

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – The City Council will begin a three-day review of Mayor Jerry Sanders proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The first day will focus primarily on public safety, with an examination of the police and fire budgets on tap.

The mayor satisfied the top council priority by restoring eight fire engines taken out of service this year, on a rotating basis, to free up $11.5 million. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department documented slower response times because of the unavailable engines.

Four are set to be brought back when the new fiscal year starts on July 1, and the rest on Jan. 1, 2012. The council could tweak the schedule in order to save money for other uses, according to the city's Independent Budget Analyst.

The hot-button issues of library and recreation center funding is due to be taken up on Thursday. The mayor's spending plan envisions cutting the hours of both in half.

The City Council needs to find $10.3 million to restore the hours.

Sanders has repeatedly said he wants to solve the city's structural deficit — the causes of annual budget shortfalls — by the time he leaves office next year. However, he cautioned that he couldn't accomplish his goal all in one year without drastic service cuts.

San Diego's total budget for the next fiscal year is $2.75 billion, with a $1.1 billion general fund, which is where the money for discretionary spending is held.

Sanders had to close an estimated general fund shortfall of $56.7 million, which grew to $73.2 million when the return of the fire engines and other adjustments were added.

The gap was filled with $35.1 million in one-time changes to revenues and spending, mainly transfers between funds, and $38.1 million in ongoing adjustments to income and expenditures, like the department cutbacks.

The mayor said the budget also does not add to, or take away from, the city's reserves.

Categories: KUSI