New budget would restore library hours, end fire engine brown-outs

Final approval on the city budget will come Tuesday in a second reading of what was agreed upon Monday, in a seven-to-one vote.

What a difference a couple of months make. It was all gloom and doom in April when Mayor Sanders proposed a budget that drastically slashed hours at libraries and recreation centers to help bridge a $56.7 million budget deficit. But an improving economy brought in $9 million in new revenue, and a much more proactive council on the budget found other ways to trim the deficit.

As the final deliberations began on Monday, much of the drama over cuts to neighborhood services were gone.

Several council members appeared on KUSI's Good Morning San Diego Monday.

“We said we're going to propose what the budget should be, we think we understand what San Diegans want,” District Eight City Councilmember David Alvarez said.

“We said we're going to make a strong statement, these are our priorities, and with Tony Young, we went out early,” District Two City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer said.

“We came up with a lot of recommendations that previously hadn't been discussed or thought of in a budget, we did it early and identified nearly $50 million in savings or cuts,” said City Council President Tony Young.

The City's independent budget analyst says not only can all of the recreation center hours be restored, but all of the library hours as well. What's more, a new Fire Department communications system can now be fully funded.

The new budget also includes phasing out the controversial fire engine brownout policy, which idled up to eight engines a day. The phase-out will start with the new fiscal year, July 1st and be completed by the first of the year. Just before 5 P.M. on Monday, the council overwhelmingly approved a budget that included ending the fire engine brownout policy, which starts July 1st. That means the new fire department communications system will be phased in over the next two years. The budget also includes money to fund lifeguard training.

But it also includes serious pain. According to some council members, 117 city positions will be eliminated, including vacancies not filled, along with pay reductions and other cuts.

Not enough, though, says Councilmember Carl DeMaio, the only member to vote no. DeMaio says the council still hasn't fixed the structural budget deficit.

This is a tentative approval. Final approval comes Tuesday.

Categories: KUSI