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Mayor's budget focuses on return to normalcy

todd gloria pic.jpg
Posted at 4:58 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 20:23:02-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Mayor Todd Gloria unveiled a $4.6 billion budget proposal Thursday aimed at getting San Diego out from the grips of the pandemic.

The city recently received $306 million in federal stimulus funds, allowing it to shore up deficits this fiscal year and the one that starts July 1, 2021.

"Amid a potentially subsiding pandemic that has devastated our local economy, our attention is now turning toward recovery, and this budget invests in that," Gloria said at a news conference Thursday.

The budget, dubbed Back to Work SD, focuses on six areas: the economy, city and homeless services, police reform, climate change and recreation and education.

Libraries would be closed Sundays and Mondays, saving the city $6.9 million, but virtual learning would be expanded with a $1.25 million investment.

Patrick Stewart, who heads the nonprofit San Diego Public Library Foundation, said in a statement the proposal had pluses and minuses.

"While we are concerned about the magnitude of cuts, we are very encouraged by the investment the Mayor’s budget provides for books, technology, resources, and essential programs," he said. "It is vital that we ensure that libraries can continue to serve the community, especially as they will be called on to support San Diego’s recovery in very important ways."

The budget creates $10 million dollars for small business loans, and a concierge program to business owners navigate the city. It adds $10 million to build new streets, and more than $10 million for homeless services and to fund a new strategies department.

The budget cuts the police overtime budget by $4 million, reinvesting that money in the new voter-approved Commission on Police Practices.

In response to the budget proposal, the Police Officers Association said it would work with the mayor to "reimagine" the police department, and noted that doing so requires an investment.

"To improve training, to move back to a community policing model, to get us out of being the primary responders to homelessness, to improve response times, to continue keeping our communities safe, and to keep us competitive with other department so we can recruit and retain top candidates requires more resources," said Det. Jack Schaeffer, president of the association. "We look forward to imagining a department that has all these things in place and keeps San Diego as one of the safest cities in America."

Gloria says the $306 million of stimulus money helped avoid reductions in city services and cuts to city staff. He will present the budget to the City Council Tuesday. It will go through public hearings, with a target date of approval in June.