Mayor's spending plan called 'solid' by IBA

Posted at 4:48 PM, Apr 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 19:57:19-04

The mayor's $3.3 billion proposed budget for San Diego's fiscal year that begins July 1 is "solid," has reasonable revenue assumptions and focuses on a wide range of service priorities supported by the City Council, the city's Independent Budget Analyst's office said in a review released Friday.

The IBA expressed concerns with an intractable police staffing problem, unmet needs that could soon require resources, and a softening economy.

"The proposed budget is reflective of past and continuing efforts in service restorations and attention to infrastructure," the IBA report said.

"Revenue projections are appropriately conservative and support expenditure increases for (the fiscal year)."

According to the IBA, the proposed spending plan's strengths are:

  • a general fund reserve of 14.75 percent with planned increases to 16.7 percent by 2021;
  • a close alignment with priorities listed by City Council members;
  • higher funding for street repairs;
  • adjustments for police and fire overtime expenses to better match with recent experience;
  • funding to begin a three-year program to develop a system-wide parks master plan; and
  • continuing to pay for condition assessments of city facilities, streets, sidewalks, and parks to maintain reliable information on a backlog of capital projects and maintenance.

While the IBA generally praised the proposed spending plan, several areas warranted concern, chiefly a realization among city officials that a five-year contract with police that includes compensation increases has not slowed down the rate of officers leaving city employment.

The deal went into effect last year, but the rate of 13 departures per month of sworn personnel is the same as the year before, according to the report.

"This is a multifaceted, complicated, and serious matter," the IBA said. "It is not known what further solutions are being considered, but at this point the FY 2017 budget does not include any new initiatives or resources aimed at improving police recruitment and retention beyond what was negotiated in 2015."

The IBA also said that the economic recovery from the recession, and associated revenue growth, has begun to slow, so future increases in receipts might be not be as large as in the last few years.

The City Council is scheduled Wednesday to begin four days of hearings on the budget proposal.