Gloria’s Revised Budget Brings Back San Diego Library Hours But Still Disappoints

by on May 20, 2021 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach, San Diego

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria revised his budget, released Tuesday, which now keeps libraries open seven days a week. This is a testament to the pushback he received from City Council members and the public about his initial cut-backs in the library budget.

However, to library advocates, Gloria’s numbers are still disappointing. The new budget removed funding for a pilot program to extend morning and evening access in communities that would benefit from this the most.

Patrick Stewart of the San Diego Public Library Foundation made this statement in response:

“We thank the Mayor for restoring the Library’s budget at a time when San Diegans need its essential and free services, programs and resources more than ever, especially in those communities hit harder during the pandemic. We’re happy to see new investments in electronic resources and systemwide programs.

However, we are disappointed in the removal of $100,000 to pilot the Open+ program. This program would extend Library access, particularly in underserved locations. We ask the Council to keep the $100,000 in the Library budget to help make critical Library materials and resources more accessible to all.

This budget returns Library funding to pre-pandemic levels but is still woefully inadequate. The full restoration of the Library’s budget plus additional investment in its programs is what we hope to be the first step in a long-term look at how we invest in our Libraries. We hope we can work with the Mayor and Council to reverse the years of systemic disinvestment in our Library system and make positive, lasting changes in how the city invests in our Libraries and our communities.”

Gloria’s new budget also includes salary increases for most city employees. Overall, it features an additional $73 million in spending. Gloria stated:

“After years of budget mismanagement that resulted in structural budget deficits, we are getting our city back on track. This budget update takes a balanced approach to stabilize the city’s finances while investing in the people who provide services that make San Diego better for all of us.”

The tweaks to the proposed budget will bring spending up to $4,631,966,620 for Fiscal Year 2022, which runs from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022.

Other items added include the second phase of the city’s pay equity study and salary increases for most city employees intended to make their pay more competitive with other local agencies.

Investments Gloria proposed in April remain in this plan, including more than $14 million to get San Diego families and businesses back to work. Other priorities being funded include:

  • $10 million to build “sexy” streets in historically underserved communities, with another $30 million planned to come from debt proceeds
  • Reorganizing the city’s executive team to save $784,000 annually
  • More than $10 million for immediate actions to combat the homelessness crisis, and funding to support the new Homelessness Strategies Department
  • Across the board decrease to San Diego Police Department overtime, saving more than $4 million annually
  • Reinvesting those savings through the new independent Commission on Police Practices
  • Increased funding for the “No Shots Fired” gang prevention program and additional community and youth-focused diversion programming
  • Creating a “Summer for All of Us” program to help children and their families take part in activities at libraries and recreation centers in communities of concern
  • Updates to the Climate Action Plan
  • Investing $5 million into the new Climate Equity Fund

The final budget will be adopted in June following several weeks of review by the public and the City Council.

News source: Times of San Diego / City News Service

 

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Avatar Gravitas May 20, 2021 at 9:41 am

Get the Council to do the remaining “not so heavy lift” and restore the $100,000 to pilot the Open+ program. Shouldn’t be that difficult! Borrow from the $10 million convention center expansion coffers.

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