The city of San Diego and its employee unions have about a month and a half to reach agreement on a deal that would allow the city to close an expected $54 million budget deficit for the next fiscal year, Mayor Jerry Sanders said today.
The mayor told reporters that negotiations are already under way in an effort to achieve what he called "long-term stabilization" of employee salaries and benefits.
Sanders said he wants to fix parts of the employee pension system that legally can be changed, but he declined to discuss specifics. The City Attorney's Office is preparing a lawsuit to determine whether the controversial DROP retirement program is subject to negotiation, he said.
He said his office is also studying all city fees and will next week present the results to the City Council. The city charter requires all fees to be cost-neutral, meaning that the amount collected for a particular service equals the costs of its administration.
Everything from city parks fees to fire inspection charges would be included, he said.
"It's going to be tough on our employees, and it's going to be tough on the public," Sanders said.
The time limit stems from a requirement for new contracts to be voted on by the City Council in mid-April.
"I expect the unions will work hard to protect what they won over the past 15 to 20 years," Sanders said.
The mayor said the cuts will fall on municipal employees because at a series of town hall forums, San Diego residents have consistently opposed service cuts and higher taxes.
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