City staffers estimate that San Diego has $3.87 billion in infrastructure needs, from fixing pothole-riddled roadways to building new fire stations. However, only $2.16 billion in funding is available.
The report from the city's Independent Budget Analyst's Office, scheduled to go before the council's Infrastructure Committee, says that three viable options for covering the $1.7 billion gap are raising sales taxes, taking out general obligation bonds and eliminating a law that requires free curbside trash pickup for residents.
"(The report) is a starting point for discussion on the way that things could be structured, and the different options for the city," committee Charman Mark Kersey said. He said the funding strategies would come back before the committee later in the year.
A quarter-cent increase in the sales tax would raise about $68 million annually, which could be leveraged to take out a $500 million, 15-year bond that would be paid back with the resulting revenue, according to the IBA. The report said that would still leave $26 million a year with which to cash-fund projects.
The city's sales tax rate would go from the current 8 percent, tied for the lowest in the region, to 8.25 percent.
Matt Awbrey, a spokesman for Mayor Kevin Faulconer, said the mayor would prefer to fully implement reforms to make "the city as efficient and effective as possible first" before entertaining a sales tax increase.
"These reforms include letting contractors bid for city projects online, using technology to eliminate red tape and improving how projects and money are prioritized," Awbrey said.
"For example, the city has hundreds of projects on the books, but they're often not prioritized based on real-world needs, and there are tens of millions of taxpayer dollars languishing in accounts for projects that are years away from being built," he said.
The sales tax idea would face two other obstacles. It would have to go before voters, who overwhelmingly rejected a proposed hike in an election during the last recession. Also, the San Diego Association of Governments is considering asking for a regionwide sales tax increase to fund the types of projects it handles, such as transportation.
The IBA said the city could turn to general obligation bonds, which are paid off via property taxes and can only be used to fund new projects -- not operations or maintenance. A $500 million bond would raise the property tax of a house worth $470,500 by around $64 a year, the report says.
Such bonds would also require a two-thirds vote. Kersey and Councilwoman Marti Emerald said it would be critical for passage to include in a ballot measure a specific list of projects that would be funded with the money.
The City Council could also repeal the People's Ordinance, which guarantees free refuse collection. Such an action would give the city $32.2 million to leverage bond sales, the IBA estimated.
The committee also approved a series of agreements with the San Diego Association of Governments that will pave the way for an extension of the San Diego Trolley from Old Town to University City.
The deals will allow five city-owned properties to be used in connection with the project, as stations, track maintenance access points or power stations, and for the relocation of utility equipment.
Local authorities have closed rail tracks just north of the San Diego station in Mission Hills to safely investigate a trespasser incident Wednesday.
All lanes reopen on Interstate 15 after an SUV was pinned by a box truck, causing the HOV lanes to close in both directions.
The San Diego City Council's Budget and Government Efficiency Committee will discuss during Wednesday's meeting a permit and fee system for dockless vehicle operators.
Throughout the nation Tuesday, the collective protest against the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their families at the border reached fever pitch.
Above average temperatures return to the county as high pressure strengthens south of our region. Marine layer will become very suppressed under the high pressure, but may not be completely dissipated.
The president of the La Mesa – Spring Valley School District Board on Tuesday faced calls to resign over a post on his personal Facebook page.
On Tuesday night, the voice of the San Diego Padres, Ted Leitner, returned to the radio booth just weeks after a cancer scare.
Despite community backlash, on Tuesday the San Diego Unified School District voted 4 to 1 to approve a new 300,000 square-foot housing project in Scripps Ranch that will replace a charter school and provide affordable housing units, a community garden and retail space.
Carlsbad's Ron Capps entered the funny car winner's circle on Friday for the the first time this season. Only being his first win is somewhat of a surprise as Capps had eight wins last season and won the NHRA funny car championship the year before.