SAN DIEGO – In a meeting devoid of the drama that led up to it, the San Diego City Council resolved a dispute with the mayor Friday, agreeing to more than $22 million in midyear budget cuts.
The council begrudgingly approved the staggered closure of six city customer service centers, but retained three painting jobs the mayor wanted to eliminate.
“Hopefully this will start a new era of collaboration,” Councilman Tony Young said before the council’s unanimous vote.
Jay Goldstone, Mayor Jerry Sanders’ top aide, detailed the arrangement at the start of a special meeting Friday morning, recommending the council override a mayoral veto issued Wednesday for procedural reasons, and laying out how the jobs would be restored and the centers closed.
The council’s vote to override the veto and restore a range of budget cuts was unanimous.
Goldstone also clarified what had been an incorrect understanding of many: that the council was cutting more than $37 million from the budget.
He said budget cuts actually totaled $22 million to $23 million, an amount that would save the city about $40 million annually in future years. Goldstone said the Mayor’s Office was able to close a shortfall originally estimated at $43 million and balance the budget without cutting more this year because of a hiring freeze, fee increases, fund transfers and other efficiencies.
A technical vote to finalize the amended budget – approval of an appropriations ordinance that would enact the budget resolution approved Friday – will take place next week and be one of the first orders of business for the new council.
Four new members are being sworn in Monday, and the full eight-member council will consider the appropriations ordinance Tuesday.
Goldstone said the mayor’s staff would bring a proposal to the council in January to restore the three painting jobs to the city’s budget and separately suggest how the community service centers could be closed down in stages early next year, rather than all at once this month – something the council balked at Monday to start the week’s budget showdown.
Goldstone said the city’s budget picture will get only bleaker next year. The Mayor’s Office is projecting a $54 million deficit and has asked department heads to cut their budgets 15 percent.
The mayor’s fiscal 2010 budget must be presented to the council in April, putting off the prospect of more budget battles for at least four months.
Unless, that is, the state decides to raid city coffers across California for its own budgetary woes, in which case difficult budget decisions would have to be made by San Diego city officials more quickly. [Go here for the article at signonsandiego.]