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City council votes to override Sanders’ veto

The San Diego City Council voted unanimously today to override Mayor Jerry Sanders’ veto of a package of mid-year budget cuts, in a deal that will close community service centers after Jan. 31 and restore three maintenance positions.

Last month, Sanders called for $43 million in budget cuts to help close a mid-year spending shortfall caused by declining tax revenues amid the slumping economy.

The City Council authorized the bulk of the cuts, but refused to close seven libraries and nine recreation centers and rejected Sanders’ proposal to trim the number of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department companies active on any given day from 60 to 58.

On Monday, the City Council went even farther, restoring another $600,000 to delay the closure of six customer service centers and keep three painter positions.

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Late Wednesday night, Sanders issued a memo to the City Council stating his intent to veto their budget resolution.

Sanders maintains that the action taken by the council on Monday to restore the $600,000 was in violation of the charter.

As part of the deal reached with the City Council, Sanders has agreed to close the customer service centers -- where residents can pay water and sewer bills and get information about a variety of services -- after Jan. 31, when they will be slowly transitioned out.

The mayor also agreed to keep the three maintenance positions.

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The deal will be finalized on Tuesday when the City Council will consider a new appropriations ordinance.

Jay Goldstone, the city’s chief operating officer, valued the cuts made by the City Council at $22-$23 million, which will result in about $40 million in annual savings down the road.

Councilwoman Donna Frye, who spearheaded the recent negotiations with the mayor’s office, said sparing the libraries, recreation and community service centers was only a “temporary reprieve.’'

“This is just a temporary fix to get us through the next couple of months when we are going to be closing some of these services,’' Frye said.

Goldstone acknowledged that the cuts were “painful,’' but necessary.

“This has been a trying time for our city as we have been struggling to cope with the economic crisis that was not of our making -- an economic crisis that every city up and down the state of California and across the nation is grappling with,’' Goldstone said.

He testified that San Diego will face a shortfall of at least $54 million next fiscal year.

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It was the last meeting for City Council President Scott Peters and council members Toni Atkins, Jim Madaffer and Brian Maienschein, who were termed out. Their replacements will be seated on Monday.