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On a breezy Wednesday evening — February 4 — hundreds of residents from San Diego’s District 4 filed through the glass-paned doors of the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation to attend the first of four community meetings on San Diego’s budget crisis.

The city council’s Budget and Finance Committee (councilmembers Tony Young, Sheri Lightner, Donna Frye, Todd Gloria, Carl DeMaio, and Kevin Faulconer) hosted the event to hear ideas on ways the city can cut $54 million worth of expenditures.

Despite the realization that many community services and programs will have to be done away with, residents of District 4 weren’t furious, but friendly, offering a helping hand to save community programs and urging budget committee members to explore ways to utilize community volunteerism. “Call on volunteers. You need to include us,” said one speaker.

Another speaker, an older female resident, offered to organize an additional Friends of the Library book sale to raise money to save a local youth program. “Just let me know and we can do it.”

And while volunteerism was the main theme of the night, community members implored the council to keep their budget cuts away from branch libraries and local recreation centers.

A mother stood before councilmembers with her two young sons by her side. In a heavy Spanish accent, she informed them how much libraries and youth programs meant to her family.

“As a family…low-income…we cannot afford books for my kids. The library provides books for my kids. I have a computer, but I don’t have enough money for the Internet. The library has Internet. So no more cuts. Libraries are being cut to the bone. Be realistic…there is no more bone to cut.”

According to many speakers, the city could save money by abandoning plans for a central library, eliminating lifeguard services, and halting residential street sweeping. They asked the council to consider raising sales taxes, start charging for trash pick-up, and increase the penalties for noncompliant code offenders.

To offer a helping hand or give ideas on how the city can avoid going bankrupt, attend one or all of the following community meetings:

*Saturday, Feb.14, 9 a.m., Mira Mesa Library, 8405 New Salem St.

*Saturday, Feb.21, 9 a.m., Hoover High School Auditorium, 4474 El Cajon Blvd.

*Thursday, Feb. 26, 6 p.m., Lewis Middle School, 5170 Greenbriar Ave.

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Comments

patflannery Feb. 6, 2009 @ 1:15 p.m.

Hi Dorian,

I too was there and agree with everything you wrote but would note two additional points: (1) the Mayor left before any public speaker spoke and (2) only the General Fund, where all our services come from, is on the menu.

The General Fund is $1.2 billion of a $2.3 billion total expenditure. The rest are so-called "enterprise funds": Development Services, Water, Sewer, Recycling, Refuse Disposal, Golf Course and Airports.

Then comes the Pension Administration, that spends $42 million on administration in its plush B Street offices. Then we have the so-called "Internal Services": Engineering & Capital Projects, Fleet Services, Central Stores.

Last we get the government within the government, the Redevelopment Agency. It in turn has two governments within a government within a government, called CCDC and SEDC.

No wonder the Mayor did not stick around, he had important "enterprises" to run.

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JF Feb. 6, 2009 @ 1:21 p.m.

You'd have to check, but I believe that street sweeping is part of Federal clean water standards. It lowers the pollution that runs off into the bay and ocean.

That's part of the problem. As Pat has pointed out, much of government spending in encumbered by "thou shalt" proclamations by either the initiative process or higher level government mandate.

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Dorian Hargrove Feb. 6, 2009 @ 1:42 p.m.

Thanks for the additional points. During the first few minutes of the meeting, I was busy trying to find my way out of the Food For Less parking lot and into the right one. The Mayor had left the building by the time I arrived.

Thank you both for the comments and budget tutorials. The information is always appreciated!

Dorian

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patflannery Feb. 6, 2009 @ 4:04 p.m.

I thought I was the only one that always picks the wrong parking lot. You got to hear the important stuff - the people.

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Fred Williams Feb. 6, 2009 @ 5:16 p.m.

Pat,

Please post comment #1 on www.changesandiego.org

That is by far the most accurate and succinct description of our budget I've ever seen.

Thomas Paine would be proud.

Fred

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