Street repair unveiling ahead of city budget review - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Street repair unveiling ahead of city budget review

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The City Council will begin five days of public hearings Monday morning to scrutinize Mayor Kevin Faulconer's proposed budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

The mayor has proposed spending $3.2 billion, 7 percent more than the current fiscal year. The plan includes increasing operating hours at recreation centers, repairing 300 miles of roads and upgrading broadband Internet access at public libraries.

The spending hikes were made possible by projections of across-the-board revenue increases, such as sales, property and hotel room taxes and franchise fees paid by utilities.

In the first hearing today, the City Council will go through the proposed budget for the San Diego police and fire-rescue departments, and receive a review of the overall spending plan from the city's Independent Budget Analyst's Office.

In a report issued last Monday, the IBA called the budget proposal "robust and aggressive," with "conservative revenue projections." The spending plan also increases cash expenditures to reduce the backlog of deferred capital projects, focuses on City Council and community priorities, and uses technology to improve efficiency and public interaction, the IBA said.

Implementing the new and expanded programs would result in the hiring of 424 new employees, a goal that could be difficult to achieve, the IBA said. The current year's budget envisioned hiring 279 employees, but nearly 100 of the new positions still haven't been filled, according to the IBA report.

"This history suggests these hiring targets are ambitious and may not be realistic," the report said.

The IBA also pointed out that some of the activities specified in the budget proposal will require significant staff time to execute, making it questionable how many of them can be completed during the fiscal year.

The mayor has proposed spending $16 million more than this year on the San Diego Police Department, bringing the total expenditure to $435.4 million. Of the increase, around $11 million is due to a new contract with officers that provides more flexible benefits and higher allowances for uniforms and equipment.

The SDPD budget also includes money for a long-awaited new computer-aided dispatch system and 22 additional civilian employees in support roles.

For the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, the plan estimates spending at $229.1 million, or $10.5 million over this year. The extra money will fund three fire academies, instead of one, and provide for overtime and nonpersonnel expenditures at a new fire station in Mission Valley.

The hearings will continue throughout the week:

-- Tuesday's session will focus on San Diego's Capital Improvement Program, Public Works, and Transportation and Storm Water;

-- Wednesday's hearing will feature libraries, recreation centers and the San Diego City Employees Retirement System;

-- Thursday's session will involve the San Diego Housing Commission, Civic San Diego and the San Diego Convention Center Corp.; and

-- Friday's hearing will focus on the real estate assets, purchasing and contracting, information technology and human resources departments. Friday afternoon will be reserved for further discussion on infrastructure, if needed.

The City Council is scheduled to vote to adopt a budget next month.

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