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Councilwoman Bry unveils her ‘budget blueprint,’ calling for more efficiency

San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry says she's thinking about "how we are going restructure city government in the ‘new San Diego.'"
(File)

As budget season in the city of San Diego enters full swing, City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry of La Jolla held a “budget blueprint” webinar April 30 to discuss her thoughts on the proposed fiscal 2021 budget amid the economic slowdown triggered by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, urging more efficiency and calling for a pay freeze for elected officials.

She also discussed the council’s role in getting the budget finalized, opportunities for public comment and how the budget will contribute to the “new” San Diego.

“As I think about our budget going forward, I’m thinking about how we are going restructure city government in the ‘new San Diego,’ and I’m thinking about a blueprint for what our city is going to look like going forward,” she said. “Necessity is and will be the mother of invention. Tough times create the opportunity for positive and lasting change. With the municipal revenues in free fall and COVID-19 still unfolding, the city must prepare to operate in new ways. In an effort to build an inclusive economic recovery, we must reshape the way we serve residents by being smarter, more efficient, more transparent, more accountable and more equitable. “

Bry, who chairs the Committee on Budget and Government Efficiency and is running for mayor in November, said she was “disappointed” that the proposed budget — which at $427 million is a 10 percent decrease from the adopted budget for the 2020 fiscal year — would reduce funding for public services such as libraries and parks while allowing what she called “bloated middle management” at the city level.

“Every crisis presents an opportunity to rethink the way we provide services and facilities for our constituents,” Bry said. “As chair [of the budget review committee], I will ask every department to rethink the way they operate and provide options for more efficient ways to serve the public. I will ask that all scheduled pay raises for elected officials be frozen through June 30, 2021. We can’t ask city employees and residents to make sacrifices unless elected officials are prepared to lead by example. This budget must be used to respond to community needs and chart a new course for city operations, not to maintain a city bureaucracy.”

The cover image for San Diego's proposed fiscal 2021 budget.
(Courtesy)

In coming weeks, the City Council will hold hearings to collect public input and review the budget. A schedule of hearings will be released so the public knows which department will present at which time and when to call in for a given issue. The next opportunity for public input is 6 p.m. Monday, May 11.

In the days that follow, council members will issue memos and suggestions for the budget based on their reviews and public comment.

On Tuesday, May 19, Mayor Kevin Faulconer will issue what is known as the May revision.

In June, the city’s independent budget analyst will release a report with recommended modifications. The council must vote on a final budget by June 15, which requires at least five votes to pass.

“It’s time for all of us to start thinking in new ways,” Bry said. “This can be an exciting time in creating a new San Diego that will benefit our city and our grandchildren for generations to come.”

For more information or to communicate with Bry’s office, go to sandiego.gov/citycouncil/cd1.