By Anna Daniels
Libraries take a $207 K hit on book and material funds; community policing missing from bloated police budget; nobody knows when the streetlights you’ve requested for a decade will be installed; Civic San Diego hoovers public funds sans transparency and accountability; underfunded code compliance will give slumlords a free pass.
Power concedes nothing without demands. Are you ready to take a stand for your community’s needs and against “business as usual”?
City of San Diego Budget committee hearings began this week. They are an opportunity for the public to weigh in on Mayor Faulconer’s proposed $3.2 billion budget that goes into effect on July 1, 2015. Residents know what needs to be fixed in their communities and they know which programs need to be supported to maintain a safe and livable environment.
Residents need the tools to evaluate whether the FY’16 budget passes the fairness test in meeting their community needs. Do you know
- What public funds are being used for?
- Who benefits from the expenditure of public funds?
- Who decides how public funds are allocated?
- Who is left out of the decision making and allocation?
The Community Budget Alliance has once again provided an essential analysis of what is in the budget (and what is left out). Without their analysis you may not know that 3 full time employees (FTE’s) have been added to the Neighborhood Code Compliance budget– for medical marijuana compliance. Despite the Mayor’s posturings otherwise, cockroach infestations, broken windows and backed up drains in substandard housing are not his priority.
And while residents have been assured that their community needs for street lights and sidewalk repairs have been added to the project list in Transportation and Storm Water, there is no indication of their order of completion.
Dr. Kyra Greene, Research and Policy Analyst for the Center for Policy Initiatives (CPI) provided a brief, accessible overview of next year’s budget this past Saturday in City Heights. This presentation is available here. It is truly a citizen’s guide to understanding the budget’s inadequacies in meeting community priorities.
You can quickly scroll through the presentation, find a department and the budget concerns. This can help you advocate for your community needs via an email, phone call or testimony at a public budget hearing. All are important. Your advocacy can make a difference.
The General Fund budget reflects the meat and potato expenditures and revenues associated with the core city services which are of greatest concern to residents. Those core services are Police and Fire (Public Safety), Libraries and Park and Rec (Neighborhood Services) and Transportation and Storm Water which covers sidewalks, streetlights, potholes, bike and pedestrian safety, and tree trimming.
This pie chart of how those general funds are allocated is eye-opening. What does it mean when 34.1% of general funds are allocated to police and only 3.7% to libraries? The draconian cuts of the Sanders years were disproportionately applied to libraries. Mayor Faulconer has continued the philosophy that he loves libraries, except when it comes to funding them.
Budget committee meetings are continuing this week.
Save this date:
Monday May 11 City Council Public Budget Hearing
Speak to City Council to make sure they understand your neighborhood’s needs.
Time: 6 – 9 pm
Where: City Hall, Council
Chambers, 202 C ST
San Diego, CA
Anna Daniels is a current member of the Community Budget Alliance, representing the Library Organizing Project. The opinions expressed in this article are her own.