Which city program — San Diego’s or Escondido’s — did the most to protect or advance the interests of taxpayers over the past year?

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association will reveal the answer Oct. 22 at its 25th annual Golden Watchdog & Fleece Awards.

The annual dinner — recognizing the best and worst in local government spending and decision-making — will take place virtually this year. Tickets range from $30 to $100.

Winners of “The Goldens” are selected by an anonymous committee. The event also is renowned for its celebrity filled video spoofs.

Media award nominees are The San Diego Union-Tribune, Voice of San Diego and the local ABC affiliate.

In the Metro Golden Watchdog Award category, Escondido’s Graffiti Eradication Program and Volunteer Hub are up for top honors as well as San Diego’s online permits #DigitalDSD and “Streeteries” outdoor dining projects.

“While it may look different from our events in years past, this year’s Goldens hold a special significance as we celebrate 75 years of service to the San Diego community,” said Haney Hong, president and CEO of the taxpayers group.

“Since 1995, the Goldens have been holding our public officials accountable by toasting—and roasting—public sector work funded by San Diego County taxpayer dollars. … We look forward to recognizing the good work being done in local government and calling attention to projects that aren’t making the most effective use of citizens’ investment.”

Finalists in other categories this year:

Regional Golden Watchdog Award

  • County of San Diego: Double Down on Affordable Housing
  • County of San Diego: Housing Navigators Reduce Homelessness and Recidivism

Golden Fleece Award

  • Cardiff School District: Encroachment on Public Park
  • City of San Diego: Real Estate Management Failure
  • Port of San Diego: Unlawful Fee on Rental Car Users
  • Solana Beach CCA: No Realized Rate Payer or Energy Savings
  • Sweetwater Union School District: Continued Mismanagement of Funds

Public-Private Partnership Award

  • City of San Diego, County of San Diego, San Diego Housing Commission (SDHC), Regional Task Force on the Homeless (RTFH), and San Diego Convention Center: Operation Shelter to Home
  • City of San Diego, National Asian American Coalition (NAAC), and Multiple Private Banks: PoliceHomebuyer Down Payment Assistance Program
  • South County EDC and Chula Vista Charitable Foundation: I Can See My Future

Media Watchdog Award

  • ABC 10 – Adam Racusin: The Transparency Project
  • The San Diego-Union Tribune – Morgan Cook & Jeff McDonald: CSU San Marcos Lavish Spending
  • The San Diego-Union Tribune – Jeff McDonald & Kelly Davis: Sheriff’s Department Inmate Deaths
  • Voice of San Diego – Lisa Halverstadt: MTS Use-Of-Force Exemption
  • Voice of San Diego – Jesse Marx: Smart Streetlights Data for Police

The San Diego Taxpayers Association, founded Sept. 18, 1945, says it aims to build constructive working relationships with local governments in order to advance tax-efficient policies, and educate the public about important issues that will affect their tax burden.