Mayor Gloria’s Budget Cuts 2 Days, 150 Workers and 10% from City Library Budget While Giving $10 Million to Convention Center

by on April 19, 2021 · 8 comments

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

Mayor Todd Gloria’s new budget proposal would cut two days, over 150 employees and 10% of the city’s library budget. He also proposes, at the same time, to give over $10 million to the Convention Center.

Now, sure there are trade offs in the library arena. There would be additional monies for library activities, books and videos. Plus, there are other positive aspects of Gloria’s budget – like pay increases for city employees.

But, the point is, this is the first proposed slash of San Diego libraries in more than a decade. Gloria wants to take $5.6 million out of the library budget, going from $59.7 million to $54.1 million.

He wants to eliminate Sundays and Mondays, a 23% reduction in hours for libraries. All 36 branches would be open 42.5 hours per week instead of 55 hours per week. The budget also calls to lay off 153 people, many of whom are hourly and part-time.

As the San Diego Union-Tribune reported:

His budget proposal would also add $1.3 million total to boost library budgets for activities and materials, including electronic books, to make online programs available during closed hours and to grant special access to the three branches in low-income areas.

Gloria’s proposed cuts would make library spending just over 3.1 percent of San Diego’s proposed $1.73 billion budget. That’s far below the 6 percent minimum goal the City Council set for library spending in 2002. While that goal has never been achieved, the library budget surpassed 5 percent one time and has hovered around 3.5 percent since Mayor Kevin Faulconer restored cuts from the 2008 recession seven years ago.

Gloria’s proposal also includes making homework tutorials and book talks available online when libraries are closed, and a pilot project allowing partial access to three branches in low-income areas during closed hours.

Of course, the budget process has just begun. A final budget won’t be approved until June.

At the same time, Gloria has proposed an additional $10.2 million subsidy to the Convention Center to help balance its budget and allow it to retain staff needed for conventions the city hopes will return later this year.

There will be opposition to the library cuts, among others, and the city council has yet to chime in. The council may very well reverse or mitigate Gloria’s budget slashes.

Patrick Stewart, chief executive of the San Diego Library Foundation, told the U-T he is simultaneously troubled by the proposed cuts and enthusiastic about increased funding for activities and materials, which his group has lobbied for. He said:

“The magnitude of the cuts is large. Eliminating hours and reducing days eliminates opportunities for children, homeless people, seniors and others to access services they need.”

The U-T stated:

The library’s books and materials budget, which is among the lowest nationally among similar-sized cities, would spike from $1.8 million to $2.5 million. And the budget for programming, which includes activities like author readings and homework help, would double from $200,000 to $400,000.

There will also be push-back by city unions. The Voice of San Diego reported:

Michael Zucchet, the general manager of the Municipal Employees’ Association, the union that represents many librarians and other city workers, said the cuts were a “punch in the gut” and that Gloria’s rationale that the city doesn’t have the money for them doesn’t hold up. The city’s budget includes many increased spending promises, including $10 million to homeless programs, a $10.2 million special subsidy to the Convention Center and many new hires. The budget also proposes a more than 3 percent increase to police department spending.

“If there weren’t a spending spree going on, maybe that rationale would make more sense but it seems like something else altogether is going on,” he said. Zucchet said that the union would be fighting the cuts and that most of the people on the City Council don’t support them.

Because Gloria inherited a “structural budget deficit” from former mayor Kevin Faulconer, the library cuts were necessary, said Gloria spokeswoman, Jen Lebron.

The mayor is set to present the budget to the City Council on Monday. City Council members will preside over a series of budget hearings starting May 5. Later next month, Gloria will release a revised budget proposal and the City Council will get to recommend additional changes before ultimately voting on the budget in June.

You can review Gloria’s full budget proposal here.


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Gravitas April 19, 2021 at 1:31 pm

Unbelievable! Has he ever visited a city library. Seen those using the space and books and the shelter of safety every local library provides. What warped. Values

Millions for losing convention center. Take it from those in most need of library. And these are Democrats.


Gravitas April 19, 2021 at 1:54 pm

Required reading before Mayor or Council makes this foolish budget decision. Read Heywood Sanders book. Convention Center Follies. Basic math


Judi Curry April 19, 2021 at 3:55 pm

He is becoming quite a disappointment in many of his decisions. Not much difference between him and his predecessor.


Don Wood April 19, 2021 at 7:13 pm

Why should the mayor worry about cutting library or laying off city employees when there’s a chance to butter up his hotel owner and union contributors with a big gift to the convention center corporation. If the city doesn’t keep subsidizing them, they might have to turn to the hotel owners for money to stay open. We can’t have that?


triggerfinger April 20, 2021 at 6:37 am

Maybe if we filled the libraries up with undocumented children we could get some funding for something else we can’t use. He seems to love that unilateral decision making power.


Frank Gormlie April 20, 2021 at 10:39 am

Don Bauder’s comments to this post: “Preposterous. If the $10 million for the convention center were specified for the homeless living there, I would applaud. But the money is going, he claims, for a pickup in convention business later this year. It’s not going to happen. Heywood points out that Orange County, LA, San Francisco and some other coast locales have just recently poured big bucks into their centers. Ten million won’t make SD competitive. Nor will the $200 million the city seeks through a fraudulent legal maneuver. Since the convention center business is in for a long slump, I suggest San Diego abandon it entirely as a center and use it for the homeles. Pre-covid, convention centers in U.S. were uniformly losing money. Why spend more in San Diego to lose even more money? Don”


Douglas Blackwood April 21, 2021 at 12:24 am

Local libraries are an essential resource to many, and a hallmark to any vibrant community. America’s finest city?
Cut the bureaucratic fat: like Jen Campbell!
Will the council veto this mindless proposal?
“Earth Day” needs libraries to survive


Douglas Blackwood April 21, 2021 at 12:28 am

Mahalo to: Don Bauder, the OB Rag, and all the activists seeking to preserve our resources!


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