San Diego City Council reviews proposed capital improvement, infrastructure spending plans

Filner proposes bond delay

SAN DIEGO - Most San Diego City Council members Wednesday signaled their opposition to cuts in infrastructure spending in the $2.75 billion budget proposed by Mayor Bob Filner for the next fiscal year.

The council members did not support the mayor's proposed delay in issuing an $80 million bond to save money on debt service payments. They also expressed opposition to his failure to fund structural condition assessments that were requested by a few departments.

"We can't solve a problem without knowing the size of the problem," Council President Todd Gloria said as the panel wrapped up the first session of department-by-department reviews of the mayor's spending proposals for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Pushed by constituents, the council has tried to address a backlog of capital improvement projects, estimated to be around $900 million by the city's Independent Budget Analyst. Erin Noel of the IBA's office said the estimate is based on obsolete needs assessments, and the real figure is probably higher.

An IBA report says an outline for repairing streets, sewer systems and the like that was approved by the City Council recently, even before the mayor's proposed reductions, would only reduce the deterioration of city assets by 5-10 percent -- much less whittle down the deficit.

Councilman Mark Kersey, who chairs the panel's Infrastructure Committee, said he was "only going to support a budget that does three things with regards to infrastructure -- funds our needed condition assessments, provides adequate maintenance funding and stays on track with the deferred capital bond program that this council adopted last year."

The unfunded needs assessments are for buildings, sidewalks, and parks and recreation facilities.

"These assessments are critical," Councilwoman Lorie Zapf said.

No formal vote was taken. The meeting was to give council members a chance to ask questions of staff and comment.

The mayor has proposed spending $392 million on infrastructure in the next fiscal year. The funds come from a variety of sources, a lot of which include restrictions on how and where the money will be used by the recipient.

The council budget hearings will continue Monday with a look at spending for the police and fire departments, parks, recreation and libraries.

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