Funds for services and infrastructure repairs should be spread equitably throughout all of San Diego's neighborhoods in the upcoming fiscal year, speakers at a City Council public hearing on the proposed budget said Monday night.
The message of the approximately 25 public speakers was markedly different from past years, when cuts threatened a variety of civic programs. While funding has been withheld for some individual programs, there are no major spending reductions proposed in the $2.7 billion plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
Several members of the public said more money needed to be spent on infrastructure improvements in City Heights, including some teenagers who requested a skate park.
Councilman Todd Gloria, the chairman of the council's Budget Committee, said the skate park is on the city's capital improvements list, but a new funding source needs to be identified. He said it was going to be a redevelopment project, but the state has killed off the redevelopment process used by cities.
"This is one of the more positive budget seasons this council has had the opportunity to experience in quite some time with very minimal service reductions proposed, and actually some service enhancements also proposed," Gloria said.
"However, there is still a lot of uncertainty in the budget, due to the elimination of the Redevelopment Agency and some other factors that we need to consider."
Other speakers called for funding of two programs that serve the downtown homeless -- a storage area where they can put their belongings during the day and a spot where they can shower, make telephone calls and do their laundry.
Neither was funded in Mayor Jerry Sanders' budget proposal, but they enjoy broad support on the City Council.
Councilman David Alvarez said he wanted to fund several other items left out of the spending plan, including lifeguard safety training, hiring more civilians for the San Diego Police Department so officers can return to the streets, graffiti abatement, an administrator position for the city auditor, and a 5 percent boost for the Commission on Arts and Culture.
Sanders is due to release a revised budget next week, Gloria said. A final City Council vote to approve the spending plan is tentatively set for June 11, Gloria said.
-City News Service