$107 million scheme may aid lifeguards

Council President Scott Peters hailed a proposal from Mayor Jerry Sanders to increase, to more than $107 million, next year’s deferred maintenance funds for street repairs, storm drain improvements, facilities upgrades and other projects. The councilman, however, warned that the funds might not be forthcoming because City Attorney Michael Aguirre has challenged the financial mechanism that would allot the funds.

Peters said there are a number of projects and facilities in La Jolla and other parts of District One that would be affected if the funds do become available.

“The good news is the mayor has found a way to take the first, big bite out of the city’s deferred maintenance that we’ve taken on, other than water and sewer,” said Peters. “Those are general-funded projects that don’t get much attention.”

Peters said the City Council voted 7-1 recently to adopt a bond for approximately $35 million worth of street resurfacing, including “some concrete streets which have been really hard to get at.”

Peters said $7.5 million worth of deferred maintenance funding would go to sidewalk repairs in La Jolla, including more than $6 million for design and construction of the Children’s Pool Lifeguard Tower, as well as construction of a new proposed lifeguard tower in La Jolla Shores. There is another $400,000 earmarked for sidewalk repairs on Neptune Place in La Jolla.

More money would go to La Jolla fire stations. Fire Station 9 would receive money for new roofing, and Fire Station 16 on Mt. Soledad would get about $50,000 for replacement of windows and doors.

The La Jolla Riford Senior Center would receive $75,000 in funding.

“We’re very excited that this has been approved,” said Peters. “But the problem we have is the city attorney has decided this financial mechanism, which is lease-purchase and is used by California cities and counties, is illegal, really threatening to kill the whole thing.”

As a direct result of neglect, the city is thought to have a $800-900 million backlog of deferred maintenance.

To address this backlog, Mayor Sanders has proposed significantly increasing funds spent on deferred maintenance and long-delayed capital improvements from $38 million during FY08 to $107 million during FY09, a 179 percent jump. The budget for these projects was $2.3 million when the mayor took office during FY06.