San Diego’s Independent Budget Analyst says money for police staffing available in upcoming fiscal year

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — San Diego should have enough money in the upcoming fiscal year to boost spending on police officer staffing and support for area arts programs, the city’s Independent Budget Analyst’s office reported Wednesday.

In final recommendations before the City Council meets Monday to adopt a budget, the IBA suggested increasing the San Diego Police Department’s overtime budget by $3 million to ensure that enough officers are on duty each day.

The SDPD has suffered a chronic shortage of officers in recent years, and police officials have warned that with recruit numbers falling short and projected retirements of current officers, they could have trouble meeting minimum patrol staffing levels in the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The hike would bring the total overtime expenditures to $26.2 million, which would "fully fund” the SDPD’s needs in that area, the IBA report said. The money would come from another area of the police personnel budget to better reflect the reality of having fewer officers, according to the report.

The IBA said a majority of City Council members, in their final budget requests, supported boosting the overtime budget.

Also recommended by the IBA was an extra $350,000 for a study on police recruiting and retention, and a marketing plan to attract recruits, for a total of $500,000.

Arts funding could be boosted by using $1 million from money expected to be left over from the current fiscal year, the IBA said.

In his original budget proposal released last month, Mayor Kevin Faulconer slashed financial support for arts programs by 31 percent, to $10.4 million. After running into opposition from the council and arts supporters, he added back $2.4 million.

The IBA’s recommendation would result in a total arts budget of $13.8 million, still lower than this year’s $15.1 million but more than the previous fiscal year.

The money goes to the city’s Commission on Arts and Culture, which spreads the funds among numerous organizations — including the Old Globe, La Jolla Playhouse and Balboa Park museums. Arts boosters contend that the recipients bring a significant return on investment, with many of their events attracting well-heeled tourists — and their dollars — to San Diego.

The excess money from this fiscal year can also be used to avert a proposed $882,000 cut in tree trimming, a $200,000 reduction that would have eliminated a pair of code enforcement positions, and add $200,000 to implement provisions of a new state law that requires police to collect data related to racial profiling in traffic stops.

The IBA agreed with Faulconer’s recommendation earlier this month to use $10.3 million of what financial managers call "excess equity” to pre-fund reserves for the following fiscal year.

The upcoming budget, which the City Council could vote on next week, was squeezed by a significantly higher city contribution to the employee pension system.

A similar large increase is expected for the 2018-19 fiscal year, leading Councilman Scott Sherman to warn of possibly substantial cuts ahead.

Categories: Local San Diego News