A few months ago, I became known for my comment that there was nothing sexier than a newly paved street. Though I can’t say that I find budget deficits nearly as stimulating, the City’s budget situation remains a formidable task to address and must remain at the forefront of my conversations with you. Therefore, I again dedicate a substantial portion of this email to that topic.
In addition to the upcoming opportunities to learn more about the budget and provide input discussed below, Mayor Sanders and I are hosting an information session on Clean Energy Generation this Thursday, November 12 at 6:00 p.m. at the War Memorial Building in Balboa Park. Late last year, the City of San Diego unveiled a major initiative, the Clean Generation Program, to make smart energy home retrofits more affordable to residents. Please take the opportunity to learn more about this program; changes you make in your home will help the planet and your pocketbook.
City Budget Update
While the City Council waits to see the reduction proposals from each City department, I am looking at the methods employed by other cities to remedy similar budget woes and to mitigate the impacts of cuts. In addition to investigating revenue options used in many areas of Orange County and analyzing the costs and benefits of certain service reductions, I had the opportunity as a City representative to SANDAG to briefly visit Phoenix last week, where I was impressed with its citizen involvement process and long term infrastructure financing mechanism.
San Diego boasted this year of our $103 million investment into our infrastructure. Phoenix’s infrastructure outlay is more than $800 million, thanks to a voter approved bond program that has been in place for many years. Though the revenue climate in Phoenix differs from ours, and bond measures are approved by a simple majority, its focus on citizen participation in creating funding priorities is a model of inclusion and transparency.
It’s important to note that even with this funding mechanism, Phoenix faced roughly a $200 million deficit last year and faces an $80 million deficit this year, numbers all too similar to our own. As we look for long term strategies to eliminate the structural budget deficit in San Diego, it’s important we look at the successes and failures of our counterparts elsewhere so only the best practices are utilized here.
Your ideas for long term and short term budget solutions, best practices to implement for City departments and your budget priorities are all welcome and encouraged. The City Council Budget and Finance Committee will hold three more “San Diego Speaks” forums to collect input, and I will provide some background on the City’s budget at a separate meeting to help frame the issues facing us so your input is well-informed. All meeting information is below.
Council District Three Forum: Understanding the City’s Budget
Tuesday, November 17
The LGBT Community Center
3909 Centre St.
Budget and Finance Committee Hearings: “San Diego Speaks”
Thursday, November 19
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
DePortola Middle School
11010 Clairemont Mesa Blvd.
Saturday, November 21
9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Hoover High School
4474 El Cajon Blvd.
Wednesday, December 9
6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Joe and Vi Jacobs Center
404 Euclid Ave.