Final approval process for SD's budget begins; Council has more - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Final approval process for SD's budget begins; Council has more than expected

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The final approval process for the upcoming fiscal year's budget begins Monday, and the City Council has a little more cash in hand than first expected.

City financial staff determined that the reserve accounts could end up being higher than normal, exceeding the 8 percent of revenues that city leaders aim for.

The original budget proposed by Mayor Jerry Sanders anticipated a 7 percent reserve.

The mayor's office estimates that $4.2 million will be left over once the 8 percent target is reached, but the office of the independent budget analyst said the figure was more like $3.9 million.

The mayor's office, in a memo last week, proposed using the extra cash to fully fund a new fire department communications system, and pay for additional street repairs and Americans With Disabilities Act facility upgrades.

The main communications system for sending out emergency calls to fire stations has been broken since early in the year -- and a backup is in use. The mayor originally proposed splitting the $3.4 million replacement cost over the next two fiscal years.

The IBA instead suggested disbursing $1.6 million among the eight City Council offices to spend on community services and keeping the rest in the reserve to guard against economic setbacks. Under that scenario, the reserve would be 8.2 percent of revenues.

The City Council has made maintaining library hours its top priority.

The current proposal has one library branch in each council district operating 36 hours per week beginning July 1, and others 18 hours per week.

According to the IBA, using the new money to restore the library hours will take the reserve fund back below 8 percent.

The City Council could adopt the budget Monday or Tuesday.

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