Mayor Faulconer Unveils $4.3 Billion Budget Proposal for 2020

Mayor Faulconer unveiled his budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 Thursday. It will be formally presented to City Council Monday. Here is the official release detailing the proposed $4.3-billion dollar spending plan:

Today Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer introduced the City of San Diego’s Fiscal Year 2020 Proposed Budget – a balanced plan that prioritizes funding for public safety, homelessness, housing reforms, street repair and neighborhood quality of life. The Mayor’s plan tops last year’s budget by proposing the largest infrastructure investment in City history for the second consecutive year.

Despite a lean budget year and modest revenue growth, particularly in transient occupancy taxes paid by visitors, Mayor Faulconer’s $4.3 billion budget proposal continues his commitment to invest in all neighborhoods by focusing on core community services like parks and libraries. He is also proposing an expansion of the popular “Clean SD” initiative to remove trash and debris from public places. The balanced budget was possible in part due to the Mayor’s directive to reduce the budget by 3 percent in many departments.

“We’re holding the line on spending so the public’s tax dollars can be invested in our neighborhoods,” Mayor Faulconer said. “It’s a structurally sound plan that keeps the focus on core services like road repair, homeless solutions, libraries and parks while we expand programs that will keep our communities clean and safe.”

The annual budget for the Capital Improvements Program, which funds most infrastructure projects throughout the city, has also seen massive growth since Mayor Faulconer took office. It has quadrupled from $179.4 million in FY2014 to an all-time high of $715.8 million in this budget plan. That total includes funding to begin construction of the first phase of Pure Water San Diego – a multi-year program that uses proven technology to clean recycled water to produce safe, high-quality water.

The budget proposal reflects priorities important to San Diegans. Those include funding for the equivalent of 430 miles of street repair, the implementation of housing reforms to spur more construction and increase affordability, maintaining the highest level of operating hours at libraries and recreation centers in a decade, and key initiatives such as implementing the Climate Action Plan, Vision Zero safety measures, and the expansion of homeless services.

“We’ve spent the past five years laying a solid foundation for our city,” Mayor Faulconer said. “A city that’s fiscally responsible, governed inclusively and focused on results. In the past, city leaders neglected to invest in San Diego’s future. Now we’re setting records for road repair, investing in our future with the Climate Action Plan and Pure Water, and prioritizing neighborhood infrastructure like never before.”

San Diego’s economy remains strong despite a year-over-year decline in growth of 1.3 percent in hotel taxes, also known as the transient occupancy tax, from the FY2019 Adopted Budget. The City is projecting modestly improving revenue from property (5.25%), sales (3.75%) and hotel taxes (3%) in FY2020.

Mayor Faulconer has proposed balancing the budget with about $15.3 million in reductions spread across various General Fund departments, rolling over $30.7 million in projected surplus from the current fiscal year budget, and the use of $10.7 million in excess funds available in risk management reserves, among other things.

The structurally balanced budget follows responsible financial practices by ensuring that ongoing expenses are funded with ongoing revenues and that one-time expenses are paid for with one-time revenues. The proposal includes:

Fiscally responsible budgeting: Fully funding General Fund reserves to policy targets and making $350.6 million annual pension payment in full for 16th consecutive year

Largest Capital Improvement Program in City history: $715.8 million

Street repair: $79.9 million to pave, repair and replace 430 miles of roads – putting the City on track to fix half of its nearly 3,000-mile street network during Mayor Faulconer’s tenure

Homeless services: $36.2 million for homelessness solutions and programs, including Bridge Shelters, interim housing programs, multifamily rehabilitation, Safe Parking Program sites, storage facilities, new Housing Navigation Center, rental assistance, and youth-serving homeless programs.

$9.4 million from General Fund and Low to Moderate Income Housing Asset Fund

$12.7 million from Community Development Block Grants

$14.1 million from the State’s Homeless Emergency Aid Program through FY 2021

Cleaning up our communities: An additional $6.3 million to expand the “Clean SD” initiative to communities beyond Downtown, East Village, the Midway District and the San Diego River so personnel can provide a clean and safe environment at beach areas, canyons, parks and other open spaces throughout the city.

Climate Action Plan implementation: Over $350 million in projects and programs

Public safety: $8.4 million to continue with four academies of police recruits

$3.5 million for additional patrols by the Neighborhood Policing Division

$2.5 million for a relief pool division, two additional fire academies, a lifeguard academy, helicopter maintenance and pilot training, and a dedicated bomb squad unit

Traffic improvements: $11.9 million for projects to support Vision Zero safety goals, including bike facilities, sidewalks, traffic signals, crosswalks and traffic calming measures

Libraries: Maintaining library hours at the highest level in a decade

$345,000 to operate two new libraries (Mission Hills/Hillcrest and San Ysidro), bringing total library hours citywide to 102 hours per week

Parks: Maintaining recreation center hours at the highest level in a decade

$1.6 million for operations and maintenance for five new facilities/open space in the Parks and Recreation Department (North Park Mini Park, East Fortuna Staging Area Field Station, and three joint-use parks with San Diego Unified)

Housing: $300,000 for fee waivers for accessory dwelling units, also known as granny flats, and $100,000 for the Housing Affordability Program

Arts & Culture: Maintaining arts and culture funding at FY2019 levels minus 3 percent consistent with citywide reductions – $14.3 million

Equal Opportunity: $800,000 to conduct the City’s first disparity study to review the City’s practices of hiring women-owned businesses, minority-owned businesses, and other companies that reflect San Diego’s diversity

The budget proposal recommends spending levels for City operations and capital projects for Fiscal Year 2020, which runs from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020.

Photo Credit: Sara Bartlett, KOGO News

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