The members of the San Diego City Council are “largely on the same page” with their priorities of infrastructure and public safety for the budget of the next fiscal year, Budget Committee Chairman Todd Gloria said Wednesday.
Memorandums from all nine council members listing their priorities for the fiscal year beginning July 1 were digested by the city’s independent budget analyst’s office, which delivered the results to the committee members.
Regarding infrastructure, the council members want to complete assessments that are underway of the conditions of city buildings, roadways, sidewalks and other facilities; construct parks and renovate older, existing ones; add more streetlights; and build more fire stations, according to the report.
The council members want to stem the tide of officers leaving the San Diego Police Department by increasing funding to allow for higher salaries. The department has been losing officers to other departments for several years, and 81 have left since the current fiscal year started, according to the report.
Extra money would also be set aside for recruitment of new officers.
“I think it’s good that we show consensus, how we get there is probably a different story, but at least there’s an agreement that these are priorities,” Gloria said. “I think that’s a good place to start.”
The potential for the different story was raised when committee members David Alvarez and Myrtle Cole called for the city to emphasize infrastructure projects in underserved neighborhoods south of Interstate 8. Both represent southern areas of the city.
“Such prioritized investment into these neighborhoods will ensure that every community is on an even level and has essential resources to protect us from fire, to have police protection, streets that are paved, and also well lit by streetlights, safe sidewalks, libraries and parks,” Alvarez said.
He said while a lot of the infrastructure discussion is focused on fixing existing assets, he wants to make a priority of “non-existant sidewalks, the missing parks, the unpaved streets that still fall in some of our neighborhoods, as well as the unpaved alleys.”
Alvarez criticized Mayor Kevin Faulconer last year for not including park projects in his district in the current budget.
Cole pushed for new sidewalks, especially on Market Street near the Malcolm X Library.
“People shouldn’t have to walk on the street or dirt to get to a multi- million-dollar public facility,” Cole said.
She also asked for permanent fire stations to be built in Encanto and Skyline Hills — where groundbreaking is scheduled Friday for a temporary facility.
The mayor will issue his budget proposal in April.
“This year I will continue to prioritize funding for services that improve the lives of residents in all of our neighborhoods, particularly those that have a history of being underserved,” Faulconer said in a statement. “I will focus on providing more competitive pay to help stem the tide of officers leaving the San Diego Police Department and improving emergency response times in communities that need the most help.”
The council members will vet the mayor’s budget proposal in May and take a final vote in June.
—City News Service
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