San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer is expected to discuss new financial challenges, homelessness and the Chargers when he delivers his third “State of the City” address Thursday.Faulconer started a new term last month after finishing the remainder of scandal-plagued Bob Filner’s term. He was reelected in June by a comfortable margin over two opponents.
The mayor and other city officials face mounting problems as 2017 begins, starting with a growing shortfall for the upcoming fiscal year.
In November, city financial staff issued a report that estimated a gap of around $37 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, and that was not counting several high-priority projects and initiatives.
The difference between expenses and revenues, attributed to a higher city contribution to the employee pension system, has since grown by $9.7 million. That could delay the implementation of programs, force departmental spending cutbacks and reduce the amount of money available to combat problems like homelessness.
The number of people living on the streets has seemingly ballooned over the past year, resulting in tent cities in the East Village and substantial numbers of indigent people wandering downtown streets. The growth has come even though the city has started programs that pair long-term housing with social services like substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling and job search assistance.
An annual countywide tally of the homeless is scheduled for Jan. 27.
In last year’s speech, Faulconer unveiled a plan to offer incentives to landlords to rent apartments to 1,000 homeless veterans.
Nearly 750 veterans are enrolled in the program, with 468 finding housing, according to the San Diego Housing Commission. Last month, the mayor said the program was making progress, but more work was ahead.
Like last year, the question of whether the Chargers will continue to call San Diego home remains unresolved. Now that his bid to build downtown stadium has been rejected by voters, team owner Dean Spanos has until Tuesday to announce whether he will give staying home another shot or have his franchise become the second National Football League team in Los Angeles.
Faulconer said in his 2016 address that it wasn’t too late to keep the Chargers in town. That speech came two days after NFL owners rejected a proposal for the Chargers and Raiders to jointly build a stadium in Carson, in Los Angeles County.
The owners, however, gave Spanos a one-year window to join the Rams at a future playing facility in Inglewood, near the Los Angeles International Airport. The deadline to act on that option was set to expire Sunday, but the Chargers were provided an extension.
This year’s mayoral address is open to the public, and is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Balboa Theatre, 868 Fourth Ave.
— City News Service
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