San Diego’s balanced budget restores libraries, protects beaches and guards tax dollars
By Council President Pro Tem Kevin L. Faulconer
This summer, San Diego will begin restoring neighborhood services, better protecting our beaches and bays, reinvesting in public safety and guarding San Diego’s tax dollars by strengthening financial safeguards. I recently voted for a balanced budget that delivers these results without unrealistic assumptions or accounting gimmicks. The 2012-2013 budget includes:
- Adding eight operating hours per week to every branch library, five hours to the downtown Central Library on Saturdays and five hours to every recreation center
- Investing $130 million into repairing roads and other infrastructure
- Increasing police academies to 120 cadets and holding the first firefighter academies since 2009, adding 60 firefighter recruits
- Restoring three lifeguard positions to improve beach safety
- Fully funding beach and bay fire pits
- Supporting an economic development program to create, attract and retain jobs and businesses
- Funding to complete a financial reform measure to solidify San Diego’s newfound position as a model for sound fiscal management
People have asked me how this good news is possible given several years of deep cuts due to the recession and past fiscal mismanagement. It was not long ago the City planned to shut down core services such as the Ocean Beach library and Cabrillo Recreation Center – a shortsighted proposal in which I joined hundreds of neighbors to permanently quash.
The simple answer is that we made tough and necessary decisions that put San Diego at the forefront of financial reform. Fiscal discipline and an improving economy are paying off. As cities such as Los Angeles and San Francisco faced massive budget deficits this year ($238 million and $263 million, respectively), San Diego is positioned to begin reinvesting taxpayer dollars in its neighborhoods. Since I was elected over six years ago, I have worked with Mayor Jerry Sanders to bring to City Hall the same budget principles San Diego families and businesses practice every day. The City’s budget crisis unfolded over several years, and solutions were not created overnight. The cost-saving tools we used to create this budget are possible thanks to reform efforts we San Diegans began years ago.
In 2006, voters approved a ballot measure to unleash the power of competition between the private sector and government employees. The managed competition process is now producing $6 million in ongoing savings with more to come. In 2008, voters ushered in a new, accountable system of City government by creating the independent Office of the City Auditor. This taxpayer watchdog has identified over $33 million in opportunities to increase revenues and decrease costs.
At City Hall, I’ve proudly guarded San Diego’s tax dollars. Last year’s landmark retirement health care reform plan will produce more than $800 million in savings over the next 25 years. And a six percent compensation reduction for City employees has reduced costs by millions of dollars.
These victories have been hard fought, and we are not done. We must implement comprehensive pension reform, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters on June 5, to begin reducing the City’s $2.2 billion unfunded pension liability. We must double our efforts to repair San Diego’s roads by improving coordination and communication between City departments, as well as increase efficiencies to award repaving projects to contractors in a timely manner. We must continue to eliminate waste, cut red tape and restore more City services.
Our work is not complete, but this budget reflects that we are on the right path. I am confident that together, through continued fiscal reforms, we will carry on delivering results for our neighborhoods that improve the quality of life for all San Diegans.
HillQuest publishers have ‘lots of heart’
I met Ann and Nancy and the Hillcrest Town Council (HTC) when they helped my neighborhood settle a parking dispute with the Uptown Partnership in 2009 [see “HillQuest Urban Guide,” Vol. 4, Issue 14]. They were very understanding and helpful and I really believed them when they said, as residents, we have a voice with the town council. They have always been very open and inclusive. I think that part of their success with community affairs is that they communicate from the heart and they have lots of heart. Much of their happiness comes from working to make others happy. They have accomplished a lot and even managed to piss a few people off along the way so they must be doing something right.
—Luke Terpstra, Chair Hillcrest Town Council, via email
Supporting the El Cajon Business Improvement Association
This is BIG TIME fun and I am glad I am able to support the BIA and Layafette Hotel [see “Now Playing: Poolside movies at the Lafayette,” Vol. 4, Issue 14].
—Mark Elliott, via sduptownnews.com
A photograph supporting the story “Celebrating Crest Cafe and community” in the Vol. 4, Issue 14 edition had an incorrect caption and credit. Shown here, the photograph should have been captioned: ‘Artist Cody Griffith, here working on the Crest Cafe mural on July 2, was selected by owner Cecelia Moreno to design and paint the restaurant’s celebratory mural. (Photo by Rebecah Corbin)’