SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The tax and fee burden on businesses in San Diego is far below the average of other large California cities, creating opportunities to raise revenues for its general fund, according to a report issued Wednesday by a citizens commission.
However, two City Council members warned their colleagues that voters are in no mood to increase city taxes after the failure of a half-cent sales tax increase on last month's ballot.
According to the key findings of the Citizens' Revenue Review and Economic Competitiveness Commission, as presented to the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee:
-- a large majority of residents favor contracting some services to private companies via managed competition;
-- a similar majority does not want further cuts to programs or service levels;
-- fee increases are more palatable than new taxes;
-- San Diego collects far less general fund revenue per capita than other cities; and
-- waste collection and storm water costs come from the general fund instead of separate fees like other cities.
The services identified for privatization include the Miramar Landfill, municipal golf courses and airports.
Business taxes average $79 in the city of San Diego, compared to a norm of $601 in similar cities statewide, according to the report. The next lowest city is San Jose, which charges three times as much.
Bringing the tax burden up to San Jose's level would generate $26 million in new revenues, and $94 million would be raised if San Diego's business taxes were boosted to the state average.
"I do not believe the citizens of San Diego are going to vote to raise taxes," City Councilman Kevin Falconer said.
The wide margin of defeat for Proposition D was "a very clear message," Falconer said.
City Councilman Carl DeMaio objected to the comparisons to other cities.
"As far as comparing San Diego with Los Angeles and San Francisco, I don't want San Diego to go down the toilet with those cities," DeMaio said.
City Councilman Todd Gloria said the report provided "a lot of food for thought," and implementation of the findings would take "political fortitude."
The commission's mandate was to compare San Diego's finances with other cities without political advice, City Councilman Tony Young said.
The commission also recommended the city protect water and beach quality, continue to promote tourism, help local schools produce a capable workforce, create and maintain sustainable infrastructure and encourage hospitals to offer more beds -- all to improve quality of life, which they said was critical in attracting high-value employers and workers.
Authorities asked the public Friday for help in identifying and tracking down a pair of thieves who have carried out a two-week series of bank robberies this month in the San Diego area.
Backers of an initiative that would allow San Diego State University to buy the SDCCU Stadium site in Mission Valley for campus expansion are scheduled to begin seeking petition signatures Saturday.
An unknown assailant jumped a woman Friday on a walking trail near Gillespie Field airport and choked her nearly into unconsciousness, fleeing when she managed to break free, authorities reported.
The San Diego Gulls allowed power-play and shorthanded goals in the first period and an empty-net goal in the third in a 4-2 loss to the Stockton Heat Friday night at Stockton.
San Diego County's unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent last month despite seasonal cutbacks in leisure and hospitality jobs, the state Employment Development Department reported Friday.
The San Diego Fire Rescue Foundation on Friday held an awards ceremony to recognize the men and women who put their lives on the line to keep San Diegans safe.
It has been ten years since devastating wildfires swept through San Diego, destroying thousands of structures and affecting so many lives.
From a baby tiger cub to monitor lizards and a macaw, authorities have seized dozens of animals and filed charges against 16 people as part of what they say is the largest wildlife trafficking sweep in Southern California.
Three officer-involved shootings over the past year, including the killing of a man who opened fire at a pool party at a La Jolla apartment complex, were legally justified, District Attorney Summer Stephan announced Friday.