By James R. Riffel
A proposed $2.97 billion budget for the next fiscal year found a receptive audience Tuesday when it was formally presented to the San Diego City Council.
The budget would increase overall spending by 6.2 percent beginning July 1. The spending plan will be vetted next month, with council approval expected in June.
None of the council members criticized the spending plan and no members of the public chose to comment.
"The word has gotten out in the media that we have a good budget," Councilwoman Lorie Zapf said. "It's better than the angry mobs we were used to."
Mayor Kevin Faulconer, in his introductory comments to the council, said city officials are coming off a time when they had to grapple with deep fiscal woes that were immediately followed by the recession. The result was serious budget cuts, he said.
"We have the opportunity now to begin restoring those services and rebuilding San Diego," Faulconer said.
His proposal calls for spending $298 million on infrastructure; would expand hours by four per week at branch libraries and five per week at the Central Library; fund new police officer and firefighter recruits; and pay for construction of a temporary fire station in the Skyline area -- among other things.
Faulconer will have the chance to revise the spending plan following the City Council's budget hearings next month.
City Council President Todd Gloria and Councilwoman Marti Emerald asked the mayor's office to fund the implementation of a plan under development to respond to climate change.
Councilwoman Myrtle Cole requested a ranger to patrol Chollas Lake, and Councilman Sherri Lightner said she wanted funding for a ranger at La Jolla Shores.
Lightner also asked for the city to study the proliferation of marine mammals along the La Jolla coastline.
Gloria requested details on who would benefit from a plan by the mayor to start after-school study programs at the city's libraries. Faulconer, when he introduced his proposed budget on Monday, said the program would target neighborhoods where schools have low standardized test scores.
He also questioned how many miles of roadway would be paved and whether Civic San Diego -- the city's development arm -- was funded enough to handle additional responsibilities in City Heights and Encanto.
The council's budget hearings are scheduled to begin May 5.
—City News Service