Mayor Todd Gloria, speaking at Super Cocina restaurant in City Heights, highlights San Diego budget priorities. Image via Twitter

Nonprofit and small business loans, building “sexy” streets, reducing police overtime, investing in the city’s Climate Equity Fund and a focus on supporting the San Diego Convention Center are among the highlights of Mayor Todd Gloria’s $4.6 billion proposed budget, which was revealed Thursday.

His intention is to jumpstart the city’s economy and pave a path for an equitable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

“My “Back to Work SD” budget prioritizes an equitable recovery from the impacts of the pandemic while setting the foundation of a brighter future for all of us, Gloria said at a news conference in front of a Mexican restaurant in City Heights hard hit by the pandemic.

“Despite a structural budget deficit inherited from the previous administration, we took a pragmatic approach to balancing this budget while protecting core services and investing in the people who have suffered the most throughout this past year,” he continued.

The proposed budget centers on the “Back to Work SD” plan Gloria developed during his campaign that serves as a framework to help San Diegans devastated by COVID-19 and equip them for a brighter future.

“Mayor Gloria’s budget proposal looks to the future without losing sight of the issues in San Diego that need to be addressed today,” said Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego. “I applaud the mayor’s priorities, including investments in our hard-hit small businesses and nonprofits, strategies to end homelessness, the city’s climate change plan and services to help San Diegans get to work and create opportunities for children and families.”

Major money items in the budget include:

  • $10 million in nonprofit and small business loans in hard-hit industries and owned by people of color.
  • $10.2 million to support the convention center, intended to maintain good-paying jobs and keep San Diego poised for its tourism economy to rebound.
  • $10 million to build quality, complete “sexy” streets in communities of concern, with another $30 million planned to come from debt service.
  • Investing $22.1 million in the city’s workforce to make their salaries more competitive with other local agencies.
  • More than $10 million for immediate actions to serve those in crisis on the streets, and funding to support the new Homelessness Strategies Department to ensure the city is setup to be successful in its efforts to end homelessness.
  • $4 million in proposed savings with across-the-board decreases to San Diego Police Department overtime.
  • Investing $5 million into the new Climate Equity Fund.
  • And adjusting library hours to a Tuesday through Saturday schedule as the city reopens to save $6.9 million, while investing $1.25 million in e- materials and virtual hours in communities of concern.

The city faced an expected budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year of $124 million — a figure that exceeds the entire Parks and Recreation Department annual budget.

Last month, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law, allocating approximately $306 million in federal relief to the City of San Diego, which Gloria proposed to use to strengthen the local economy and stabilize city finances.

“I proudly supported the American Rescue Plan because it provides the resources our cities need as we begin the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sen. Alex Padilla, D-California. “Federal support for local programs and projects will be key to a swift and equitable recovery. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, San Diego can make strategic investments to build back stronger.”

The $4.6 billion budget proposal recommends spending levels for city operations and capital projects for Fiscal Year 2022, which runs from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

The final budget will be adopted in June following several weeks of review by the public and the City Council.

Gloria — who earlier in the day got his first COVID vaccination (from Councilwoman Jen Campbell) — will formally present the budget proposal to the San Diego City Council at 2 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers.

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