2018 Budget Met with Ambivalence

May 19, 2017

By Marinee Zavala

Amidst criticism for reducing funding for arts and culture in San Diego, as well as the need to close a significant police officer shortfall, Mayor Kevin Faulconer intends to get to 2018 with the largest infrastructure budget in decades.

Of the $1.4-billion General Fund budget for Fiscal Year 2018, $5.4 million is planned for drainage projects, $289,000 for the hiring of two Deputy City Attorney positions for the Domestic Violence Unit, $800,000 to fund graffiti programs, $1 million will go to the reconstruction of the Point Loma Fire Station, and $2 million to citywide police station improvements.

Public Safety is another issue of concern, given that the City will have to spend money to recruit a new Chief of Police after Shelley Zimmerman’s departure.

“Among the most important items in the review is the funding of a nationwide search for a chief of police, now that our current Chief will be leaving in March,” said Councilmember Barbara Bry, Chair of the Budget and Government Efficiency Committee.

In addition to the expenditure to hire a new Chief, there is the expense of the constant hiring of new recruits, as the most recent statistics show an average turnover of 13 officers per month.

“We need to look at not only what is going on in the region and the state, but throughout the country. We want the best and brightest men and women to join the San Diego Police Department. We are very proud of what they do every day, and we want to ensure that the position is attractive and that we retain the best,” said Mayor Faulconer.

Another heated issue was the announced budget cuts targeting arts and culture programs, which led to large protests outside City Hall in recent days in response to reductions that could be as high as 30 percent.

“No doubt we have had to make cuts in several areas, that is part of what you have to do when the budget faces difficult times,” said the Mayor.

The next steps for the budget are a review by the Budget Committee on May 18, including some of the items proposed by the Mayor; then on May 22 the Council will perform its final changes. The Office of the Independent Budget Analyst (IBA) will issue a Final Report with recommendations on June 1 and, lastly, the Council will announce the final decisions regarding the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget at a public hearing on June 5.

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