Amid the 11 acres of “lush tropical” backdrop at Kona Kai Resort and Spa on Shelter Island, Mayor Jerry Sanders addressed the San Diego Taxpayer’s Association on the economic hardships the city of San Diego is bound to face.
Sanders explained how the global economic crisis will impact the budget; namely, a projected $43 million deficit caused by slumping tourism revenues and tumbling sales and property tax gains. He said that it was time for the city to scale back on its finances.
“For a city that is already on a tight budget, such a huge adjustment cannot be made painlessly. Unlike the kingpins on Wall Street, no one is going to rescue us. We have to rescue ourselves.
"Across our city, families are preparing for these lean times by showing courage and common sense in the face of uncertainty. We have no choice but to do the same. I have informed the council that, until we have certainty about our economic outlook, I will veto any council action that adds any nonessential programs or obligations that require new spending.”
Not all spending will stop, said Sanders. There are some projects that Sanders says will help save money down the road. The transformation of Lindbergh Field into a regional transportation hub, for example.
“We are drafting an airport plan that captures the true potential of that invaluable property where our transportation modes -- air and rail, highways and seaways -- already converge.
"This plan meshes our transportation options intelligently, and it reengineers Lindbergh Field as a travel hub for our region. It addresses our short-term needs without making them the ceiling of our ambitions. Even if a future generation finds a spot to build a new airport, the inter-modal center we envision will be a lasting boon to the city.”
Sanders also mentioned the convention center and the need to build the third-phase expansion.
“This new phase will be built behind the existing convention center, so it won't block the public’s view of the water. And if it's done right, it will actually enhance public access to the waterfront. I'm excited about this project, and I will do everything I can -- except commit existing tax revenues -- to make sure it goes forward.”
Lastly, Sanders lobbied for support of a new civic center.
“We've heard from financial analysts who say we could save $400 million over the next 50 years by consolidating city operations in a single mixed-use building designed for today's technologically advanced workforce. We are not going down this road unless it pencils out for the taxpayers -- that's all there is to it. But if it’s true that a new civic center will save the taxpayers money, I can't turn my back on a solution simply because it will be unpopular in certain circles.”
In closing, Sanders reiterated his confidence in the City of San Diego and its residents.
“We will emerge from these challenges more secure, more confident, and knowing we kept faith with the people who are the strength and future of our great city.”