Sanders won't push for mid-year budget cuts

By JOE BRITTON

City News Service

The mayor's office does not plan to enact mid-year spending cuts to help offset a projected $72 million budget deficit in San Diego for the coming fiscal year, officials told a City Council committee Wednesday.

"The mayor will be releasing his fiscal year 2012 budget on or around April 15, 2011, not before,'' Jay Goldstone, the city's chief operating officer, told the Budget and Finance Committee.

Last year at this time, Mayor Jerry Sanders called for — and the City Council approved — mid-year budget cuts to help close a $179 million deficit for the current fiscal year. By slashing the budget six months before the start

of the next fiscal year, the city was able to chip away at some of the deficit early.

Councilman Carl DeMaio criticized the mayor's office for not doing the same thing this year.

"If we make mid-year budget cuts, we can bank those savings and make next year's budget deficit challenge smaller," DeMaio said.

"Why not cut the budget now?" DeMaio asked.

Goldstone told the committee that "uncertainty" in the economy makes it "more prudent to wait."

"I think right now we are seeing a different economic fabric," he said. "We are seeing some of the improvements in revenues. We want better information. We are not seeing the kinds of declines that we were seeing last

year."

The announcement that the mayor won't pursue mid-year budget cuts come a week after San Diego voters overwhelmingly rejected Proposition D, which would have raised the city's sales tax by a half-cent.

In the weeks leading up to the vote, Sanders cautioned that "draconian" cuts would be made to city services to close the upcoming budget deficit unless there was new revenue.

To help close the anticipated spending shortfall, city departments have already proposed laying off firefighters, instituting more "brownouts'" of fire engine companies, the loss of 169 sworn officers, closing libraries,

shuttering recreation centers and pools and less park maintenance.

Goldstone declined to outline which service cuts the mayor would propose in his fiscal year 2012 budget.

He did pledge to move ahead with the 10 financial and pension reforms outlined in Proposition D. The amount the city will save from those changes is uncertain.

   
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