Official: Mayor plans to include task force suggestions in budge - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Official: Mayor plans to include task force suggestions in budget proposal

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Recommendations from a citizens panel to reduce the city of San Diego's deficit for the next fiscal year will be incorporated in Mayor Jerry Sanders' budget proposal, a top city official said Wednesday.

The report by the Citizen's Fiscal Sustainability Task Force, critical of the mayor's estimate of the shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1, was delivered Wednesday to the City Council's Budget and Finance Committee.

Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone told the committee members that the mayor will put some of the task force's 53 recommendations into his proposal, while others require analysis and a few are "not too practical." He didn't specify which ideas fit into which category.

The mayor's office has estimated the deficit for the fiscal year beginning July 1 to be $56.7 million.

However, the task force report adds $29.3 million in liability for retired employee health care costs and $44.4 million for financing projects to catch up on deferred maintenance projects. That brings the projected shortfall to $130.4 million.

The mayor's deficit projection and the health care liability add up to a "structural deficit" of $86 million, meaning that programs now in place will cost the same amount in coming years unless changes are made, according to the report.

Goldstone said Sanders is committed to "solving" the structural deficit by the time he leaves office at the end of next year.

The chairman of the task force, Vincent Mudd, told members of the committee that the makeup of the City Council is the most competent in some time, so there is no excuse for not eliminating the deficits. He also warned that opponents would rise up against the recommendations.

"Today, I officially ask for a moratorium on the word `no' on new ideas and new savings," Mudd said. "Start asking how you can do such things. Start saying `yes."'

Councilman Carl DeMaio said the report was "hard medicine" that should make people in City Hall "uncomfortable."

Todd Gloria, the chairman of the council committee, said the report included a "balance of suggestions" that includes cuts and revenue increases.

The report was presented for information only, so no action was taken.

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