SAN DIEGO (CNS) — Mayor Todd Gloria Friday released his $4.89 billion Fiscal Year 2023 proposed budget, with a focus on repairing aging infrastructure, improving city services, enforcing new regulations, increasing pay for first responders and other city employees and reducing homelessness.
The budget, dubbed "Ready to Rebuild" by the mayor's office, is intended to reflect the city's transition away from the COVID-19 pandemic and towards long-term projects.
"Budgets are statements of priorities, and this plan prioritizes a healthy fiscal future for San Diego with investments that protect and enhance quality of life for all of our residents," Gloria said at a news conference on Friday, where he revealed the proposed budget.
"We're making sure we have personnel to perform the work to address the backlog of repairs to streets, park facilities, and sidewalks, and to fix the storm drains that keep our beaches and waterways clean.
"We're playing the long game with this budget -- thinking about how this year's spending decisions affect San Diego's financial position five years from now and making sure our city stays on a course toward true stability in every respect," he said.
The city's Department of Finance is projecting total general fund revenues will be up 8.2% -- or $143.3 million -- over the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
However, Gloria's budget faced a shortfall this year and will use American Rescue Plan Act funds to replace lost revenue -- $123.5 million in ARPA funds this year, with the remaining balance of $55.8 million held back for next year.
"In this next year's budget, I'm gratified to see the continued investment in supporting our public safety personnel, which is coming at a critical time," said City Councilman Chris Cate. "Additionally, of all the issues I hear about from District 6 residents, infrastructure is consistently a top priority. The mayor's budget will help address and bolster these significant issues, all of which impact San Diegans every day."
Among the proposal's key infrastructure investments are bringing stormwater into compliance with more stringent state water-quality laws and repairing failing or damaged storm drains and pumps that prevent flooding and water pollution.
The plan funds improvements to parks and recreation services, with an additional $4.3 million over the prior year's budget dedicated to recruitment and training of workers and addressing high staff turnover and vacancies by converting hourly staff to salaried positions.
"San Diegans in every neighborhood should expect and receive quality roads, parks, and libraries," said City Council President Sean Elo-Rivera. "Unfortunately, years of neglect and shortsighted decisions have left many communities lacking what they need.
"That era is over, and the mayor's proposed budget is proof of that. I'm excited to partner with my council colleagues to build on the mayor's proposal and put together a budget that meets immediate needs and sets the city up for long-term success," he said.
The budget will add $8 million to improve streets with upgraded traffic signals, sidewalks and curb ramps, traffic management, tree maintenance and graffiti and weed removal, as well as more than $77 million to resurface streets -- an increase of $27.6 million over the current budget.
Implementation and enforcement of short-term rentals and sidewalk vending add up to just over $6 million in the budget, while $4.3 million is being added to existing efforts to address homeless encampments in neighborhoods, a statement from the mayor's office said.
"I'm looking forward to the enforcement of the new regulations on short-term vacation rentals and the new vendors ordinance. said City Councilwoman Jennifer Campbell, who represents Mission Beach, in District 2, where the announcement was held. "The mayor's budget will also work to resolve homelessness and create more housing for San Diegans."
The proposed budget lays out spending to continue to address homelessness, with an additional $13.6 million dedicated to increasing shelter capacity, services, and coordinated street outreach. Total funding for homelessness services is $63.3 million in this budget, with two-thirds of that sum coming from state and federal grant programs.
Public safety remains a significant portion of the budget, with proposed investments in facilities, recruitment, police overtime, and gang prevention. The city is currently in contract negotiations with the public safety bargaining units for police, firefighters, and lifeguards, and the proposed budget anticipates salary increases that will be included in the final budget.
"I want to thank Mayor Gloria for his commitment in his proposed budget to public safety and law enforcement," Police Chief David Nisleit said.
"The San Diego Police Department is responding to calls that require more and more of our officers every day. This year's budget will allow us to recruit and retain more officers and prioritize programs to keep our communities safe."
Gloria will formally present his proposed budget to the City Council on Monday, followed by public hearings leading up to a revised budget on May 17. Final consideration will take place in mid-June.