SAN DIEGO (CNS) - All eight fire engines taken out of service earlier this year to save money will be back in rotation as of July 1, and libraries will continue operating under normal hours, under a budget passed Monday by the San Diego City Council on a 7-1 vote.
Mayor Jerry Sanders still needs to approve the $2.75 billion spending plan for 2011-12, but he previously indicated he had no intention of using his veto power.
A top priority of the council was restoring the fire engines that were pulled out of service on a rotating basis to save $11.5 million, increasing the the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department's response times as a result.
Chief Javier Mainar said service levels will be back to normal with all of the fire engines available.
Sanders had proposed to restore half the engines and affected firefighters on July 1, when the fiscal year begins, and the rest on Jan. 1, 2012, but the budget approved by the council returns them all at once.
Frank De Clercq, who heads the firefighters union, said having the SDFRD at full strength is critical to the public.
"They call 911, we need to be there," De Clercq said.
Library hours were cut in half in the mayor's initial proposal, and when more money became available, he suggested that one branch in each council district could be restored to full service.
Monday's vote means all branches will remain open 36 hours per week.
A combination of additional revenues and higher-than-expected reserves are being used to pay for the restorations. The council was also able to save swimming and water polo programs; keep municipal pools open; add two lifeguard positions -- allowing for a resumption of hands-on training; and an extra city auditor's job.
The city will also enjoy a reserve account that is over 8 percent of revenues, reaching a target set by financial officials, according to Councilman Todd Gloria.
Council President Tony Young said the budget was a real break from past political wrangling.
"This is a thoughtful, unselfish, nonparochial and nonpartisan budget," Young said.
The lone dissenter was Councilman Carl DeMaio, who said the spending plan did not do enough to address the structural deficit -- the causes of annual shortfalls. The budget uses more than $30 million of one-time changes to expenses and revenues, instead of adjustments that can be used every year.
DeMaio said he was otherwise pleased by the process used by the council.
Young said the council should begin work soon to address the shortfall for the following fiscal year, which is estimated to be around $40 million.
The equivalent of 120 full-time jobs will be cut under the plan, but some are vacant, according to the city's Independent Budget Analyst.
A woman accused of driving drunk and causing head-on crash that killed her passenger changed her plea on Tuesday.
It's San Diego Women's Week and there are a number of events and inspiring women set to take center stage.
Coast Guard crews Tuesday morning worked to offload roughly $500 million worth of cocaine weighing about 36,000 pounds that was recently seized during more than a dozen operations in the Eastern Pacific, authorities said.
Authorities have closed a stretch of Genesee Avenue near Interstate 5 in University City due to that broken fire hydrant, according to city officials.
Adam Shacknai was on the stand Monday, as testimony continued in the wrongful death lawsuit of Rebecca Zahau.
Jurors deadlocked Monday in the retrial of an oft- deported Mexican citizen accused of driving drunk and causing a hit-and-run crash that seriously injured a 6-year-old boy in San Ysidro.
A San Diego hiker who was rescued last Thursday after being stranded in Joshua Tree for five days shared his incredible story of survival.
Dry and warm conditions are expected to prevail in much of San Diego County Tuesday and continue into Wednesday.
A possible homicide suspect was in custody Tuesday morning after a fight near a Chula Vista gas station left a man dead, police said.
Construction has begun at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park on phase two of the Hillside Improvement Project – which includes the installation of over 20,000 new plants and a new trail system.