Balancing San Diego’s Budget to Restore Services

| July 31, 2012 | 0 Comments

 

by Council President Pro Tem Kevin L. Faulconer

San Diego is beginning to restore neighborhood services, better protect our beaches and bays, reinvest in public safety and guard 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 new budget includes:

• Adding 8 operating hours per week to branch libraries and five hours to recreation centers

• Investing $130 million into repairing roads and other infrastructure

• Increasing police academies to 120 cadets and adding 60 firefighter recruits

• Restoring three lifeguard positions

• Fully funding beach firepits

• Supporting an economic development program to create, attract and retain jobs and businesses

• Funding to complete the Security and Exchange Commission’s final reform recommendation and close the book on San Diego’s troubled financial past

People ask how this good news is possible. It was not long ago the City planned to shut down core services such as libraries and recreation centers – a shortsighted proposal in which I joined hundreds of neighbors to permanently quash.

The simple answer is that 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 reinvesting taxpayer dollars in its neighborhoods.

Kevin Faulconer

Since I was elected over six years ago, I have worked with Mayor 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 6 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 – 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. 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 we will continue delivering results for our neighborhoods that improve the quality of life for all San Diegans.

 

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