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‘Ready to Rebuild’: City Council Approves Mayor Gloria’s $5 Billion Budget

Politics‘Ready to Rebuild’: City Council Approves Mayor Gloria’s $5 Billion Budget

The San Diego City Council Monday unanimously passed Mayor Todd Gloria’s $5 billion “Ready to Rebuild” fiscal year 2023 budget.

Gloria’s budget features an increase of $141 million from the initial proposed budget in May revise, a 2.9% increase. It focuses on repairing aging infrastructure, improving city services, enforcing new regulations, increasing pay for first responders and other city employees, and reducing homelessness, according to the mayor.

“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 when he released the 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.

Dozens of San Ysidro residents called on the council Monday to adopt a late Independent Budget Analyst recommendation to fund the first phase of Beyer Park — a project in the International border-adjacent neighborhood which has stagnated for years. The $2.2 million fills the funding gap for phase one and begins to close the gap for the second phase in construction of the park.

The proposed eight-acre park would be built on a 43-acre site and would include ball fields, a playground, restrooms, walking trails, a skate park and dog park. Residents of the neighborhood — which falls in City Council District 8 — said it would be a long-overdue development to allow San Ysidro residents to get exercise and a safe social gathering space.

One woman said it would serve as the “lungs” of the community, a green space combating the exhaust fumes of vehicles waiting in long lines to cross the border daily.

The IBA brought nearly $19 million in late recommendations, including $3.5 million toward the city’s housing stability fund, $1.5 million toward the San Carlos Library branch design and $1.1 million to repave Redland Drive Loop and 55th Street.

The budget includes an increase of $13.8 million for the San Diego Police Department, funding the SDPD with $584 million to support personnel, equipment and facilities and includes an additional $5.5 million for overtime.

In 2021, Gloria’s budget saw a $23 million increase to the San Diego Police Department. The city has increased the SDPD’s budget for the last 10 years, an increase of more than $213 million since 2011.

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.

Key infrastructure investments in the proposal include bringing stormwater into compliance with more stringent state water-quality laws and to repair 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.

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.

The 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 tops $65 million in the budget, with two-thirds of that sum coming from state and federal grant programs.

Updated at 6:20 p.m. June 12, 2022

City News Service contributed to this article.

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