Mayor's budget plan restores fire engines, cuts parks and librar - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Mayor's budget plan restores fire engines, cuts parks and library hours

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Mayor Jerry Sanders Mayor Jerry Sanders

SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Eight fire engines that had been removed from service would be put back in service, but parks and libraries would be open fewer hours under Mayor Jerry Sanders proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Ending the fire engine cutbacks, which were rotated throughout different fire stations to save $11.5 million in the current fiscal year, was a top priority of the City Council.

Four engines will be returned to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department July 1 - the first day of the next fiscal year - with the rest returning Jan.

Beginning Sept. 6, weekly recreation center hours would be halved from 40 to 20 and the equivalent of 77 full-time positions would be eliminated, saving $6.5 million. The actual number of employees affected could vary depending on the mix of full-time workers and part-timers who are cut.

Stacey LoMedico, the director of the Parks and Recreation Division, said she was previously ordered to identify $11.4 million in spending cuts, which would have resulted in 11 centers being closed entirely.

The mayor's budget proposal "will definitely have an impact, but it is not as bad as it could have been, based on the fact that we had potential closures," LoMedico said.

Under the mayor's proposed budget, branch libraries would only be open two days a week, and the equivalent of 77 full-time positions would be cut, saving $7.4 million.

"These are devastating cuts, especially to the low-income urban neighborhoods I represent," said Councilman Todd Gloria, the chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee.

Gloria said the cuts to the fire engines this year are being transferred to parks and libraries next year.

San Diego's total budget is $275 billion, with a $1.1 billion general fund, which is where the money for discretionary spending is held.

Sanders had to close an estimated general fund shortfall of $56.7 million, which grew to $73.2 million when the return of the fire engines and other adjustments were added.

"The public expects us to live within our means, and this budget reflects this reality," Sanders said.

The mayor said it was his intention to leave office in December 2012 with the city's budget problems solved, and his spending plan gets them "ever
closer" to succeeding.

The budget for the San Diego Police Department was reduced by $5.5 million, including cuts of 20 vacant officer positions.

The SDFRD's allocation increased by $8 million to restore the fire engines.


THIS IS A STORY UPDATE. The previous story is below.


SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Mayor Jerry Sanders is scheduled to release his 2011-12 fiscal year budget Thursday, that will offer solutions for a shortfall he estimated to be $56.7 million.

The spending plan will be scrutinized by the City Council over the next couple of months before it takes effect on July 1.

Since voters rejected a half-cent sales tax increase last November, city officials have been scrambling over the past several months to find efficiencies that will help avoid another year of severe cutbacks to services. However, a list of suggestions sent to the mayor this week by the City Council came up about $10 million to $15 million short of balancing the ledger.

The budget proposal includes restoration of eight fire trucks pulled out of operation on a rotating basis this year, saving $11.5 million. Sanders reportedly wants to phase the fire trucks back into service over time.

The fire truck restoration has been a top priority of the City Council. The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department has documented an increase in response times attributed to the cutback.

San Diego has a $2.76 billion budget for the current year, which includes $1.1 billion in the general fund, $1.36 billion for enterprise funds and $299.6 million for capital improvements.

The City Council will hold a special meeting Thursday morning to set a salary schedule for the next fiscal year.

Sanders will be paid $100,464, though he will actually get $94,436 to account for a 6 percent pay reduction imposed on employees.

Council members will receive $75,000 and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith will get $193,648.

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