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To address the city’s bleak financial future, Mayor Jerry Sanders asked city-council members to take a hard look at their district and try to find areas where the city could save some cash. On January 21, District 5 councilmember Carl DeMaio did one better.

In a press release issued to the mayor’s office, his fellow councilmembers, and the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst, DeMaio laid out the first of three upcoming proposals to balance the city’s massive budget deficit.

“Instead of emphasizing district-specific priorities,” read the press release, “this submission highlights my commitment to the restoration of the city’s overall fiscal health. A citywide view is key because the city as a whole faces a financial crisis that threatens the long-term sustainability of programs in each individual council district.”

DeMaio’s proposal, which steers away from the idea that the city must raise taxes and slash city services in order to balance the budget, is fourfold:

First, the mayor should institute salary freezes and require up to 96 hours of unpaid furloughs for all city employees — including police and fire-rescue — in labor negotiations for fiscal year 2010. These measures, if adopted, will potentially save the city up to $7.3 million for the fiscal year.

Next: Reform the city employees' fringe benefits. DeMaio says the benefits amount to 61.28 percent of the city’s payroll, double the national average.

The third suggestion: implement the mayor’s Managed Competition Plan, which allows private corporations a chance to compete with city departments for city service contracts.

“Unfortunately, this reform has met strong resistance from being implemented — some of it coming from the city council itself. To not move forward with managed competition is a disregard for the will of the voters and inexcusable, given the city’s present financial crisis.”

Lastly: Speed up the payment schedule for Centre City Development Corporation. The redevelopment agency agreed to start repaying it’s debt to the city in four years. The proceeds, says the press release, will go toward meeting ADA projects in downtown.

DeMaio concluded by letting the mayor and his colleagues on the city council know that more proposals are on the way.

“I will provide additional cost-saving options to help balance our city’s budget and restore its long-term fiscal health. I look forward to working with my colleagues throughout the coming year in incorporating each councilmember’s individual priorities in the ultimate budget we adopt.”

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JF Jan. 23, 2009 @ 9:56 p.m.

Many of the "fringe benefits" DeMaio speaks of are fixed costs. Not all, but many. For instance, insurance, worker's comp, etc.

DeMaio compares the "percentage of salary" for these benefits to the "percentage of salary" of other cities. The fallacy of this is that the cities he compares to pay much more than the city of San Diego. Therefore, the percentage of salary in San Diego is higher.

Further, he shows the cost of retirement as approximately 25%. This is accurate -- but only because the city council failed to pay the bill when it was due. The normal cost of retirement is around 13-14%. Amortization of debt doubles the bill. The only reason the cost is higher is because the city is now paying the piper for past indiscretions. If DeMaio used the "normal cost", the percentage of salary would be a whole lot closer to that of other cities.

I do agree with some of the cuts he proposes. But even with all the cuts he proposes, the city cannot fund the programs the citizens demand. Income will need to be increased.

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JohnnyVegas Jan. 24, 2009 @ 7:56 a.m.

Many of the "fringe benefits" DeMaio speaks of are fixed costs. Not all, but many. For instance, insurance, worker's comp, etc.

DeMaio compares the "percentage of salary" for these benefits to the "percentage of salary" of other cities.

They are alll FIXED costs JF. Because they cannot be changed. The SPSP can be eliminated, as can all the other scams, but only for future hires. The only way to eliminate the scams for current employees is a BK filing.

As for the "percentage of salary" nonsense, the benefit to salary is a ratio of the SD employee's wages and benefits-it has nothing to do with any other city or muni, and in fact I do not even think he mentions a comparison to any other city.

The fact is the vast majority of employees in America receive NO benefits at all-so every SD city empolloyee is 62% ahead right out of the blocks-not counting the higher wages gov employees receive.

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JF Jan. 24, 2009 @ 8:28 a.m.

in fact I do not even think he mentions a comparison to any other city.

You didn't read DeMaio's report, did you? He compares the percentage of salary to several other cities in an attempt to show that the benefits SD grants is too high.

The vast majority receive NO benefits, Johnny? Again, you didn't read DeMaio's report. He lists workers's comp, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, etc. as "benefits". Those are all mandatory for all employers. He even lists Medicare as "fringe benefits". He's doing everything he can to boost that number as high as possible. He's basically being dishonest with his numbers. Just like you.

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JohnnyVegas Jan. 24, 2009 @ 9:21 a.m.

I didn't read the report, and if he is liosting Medicare he is wrong. I also do not see how unemployment inasurance can be listed as a fringe. Those are mandatory costs and not fringes.

But the pension, holiday pay, sick leave, medical and dental-those are legit fringes-and I am sure those easily total the 62% number.

You have a link, I need to read the report.

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JF Jan. 24, 2009 @ 9:39 a.m.

Johnny, just another example of you jumping to conclusions without any actual research. Funny that you didn't read the report after commenting so vehemently about it on the signonsandiego site.

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/images/090121demaio-budget.pdf

While you're at it, read this one: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/images/090121fiveyear.pdf

Yes, DeMaio uses Medicare, etc. as a "fringe". That is included in his "61.28%" figure. He even included "Risk Management Administration" as a fringe benefit. The percentages are small, but it's still dishonest to throw that number around when many of the items he uses are mandatory, not "fringe".

I'm all for eliminating SPSP and retirement offset which would cut around $42 million from the budget. If cutting SPSP is legal, as DeMaio claims. I'm not sure you could get that through the courts, as it's a vested benefit. The fact remains that the FD alone needs around $80 million to be budgeted properly. The CCDC budget is larger than the FD budget. Employee benefits must be cut, but income must also increase.

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JF Jan. 24, 2009 @ 9:44 a.m.

in fact I do not even think he mentions a comparison to any other city.

From the article you're currently commenting on, "Reform the city employees' fringe benefits. DeMaio says the benefits amount to 61.28 percent of the city’s payroll, double the national average."

Once again, Johnny... you're having a knee jerk reaction with not a lick of actual research. You didn't even read the article you're actually commenting on.

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JF Jan. 24, 2009 @ 9:50 a.m.

Sorry, one more link for this morning: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/breaking/tevlin%20review.pdf

Dorian, pretty weak story to not cover "the other side" of the story. At least you should've researched DeMaio's numbers. I found all of these source documents in about five minutes.

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JohnnyVegas Jan. 24, 2009 @ 1:26 p.m.

He should not list some of those fringes-like workers comp- which is the only one that impacts the result-the others are less than 1% each and do not affect the outcome (one was less than 2/10's of 1%).

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JohnnyVegas Jan. 24, 2009 @ 1:33 p.m.

Sorry, one more link for this morning: http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/break...

Dorian, pretty weak story to not cover "the other side" of the story. At least you should've researched DeMaio's numbers. I found all of these source documents in about five minutes.

By JF 9:50 a.m., Jan 24, 2009

Actually JF, it is not that weak. The only argument you really have is the workers comp expense. Otherwise it is pretty close.

I also bet you have all these links referenced just waiting to be posted!

Bottomn line-structural defecit. The Fix, never ending taxes or less fringes. I'm going with less fringes.

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JF Jan. 24, 2009 @ 2:39 p.m.

Johnny, Once one of DeMaio's numbers is suspect they all are.

The savings DeMaio posted will get us out of this current jam. Then what? He still doesn't provide a funding fix for the FD. He still doesn't explain how to fund the library or any of a thousand other projects the citizens of this city would like to see happen.

DeMaio will never have the votes on council to reduce benefits the way he's like to. Therefore, there will have to be a compromise. To DeMaio (and you) there is no compromise -- it's reduce benefits or nothing. That's even more obstructionist than you accuse the unions of being. They have already given up benefits...

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JohnnyVegas Jan. 24, 2009 @ 5:47 p.m.

JF, the benefits, specifically the pensions and SPSP, are the problem. They have to go.

Here is an interesting read (in case you missed it);

http://www3.signonsandiego.com/stories/2009/jan/23/lz1ed23top21148-reality-check/

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JF Jan. 24, 2009 @ 7:50 p.m.

Huh, first you pan the UT and then you praise them. What's it going to be?

What part of legal, vested benefit don't you get?

I also advocate eliminating SPSP, but the pensions must stay.

I find it very ironic that you advocate for the middle class, quoting Lou Dobbs and such and then try to eliminate benefits for the last middle class folks who still have a decent pension and benefits. Why aren't you working towards increasing benefits for all workers?

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JohnnyVegas Jan. 24, 2009 @ 9:37 p.m.

JF-you are NOT middle class with your annual compoensation, not even close. Why do you try to claim you are?

You're (ie, not you alone-all Gov employees) screwing the middle class. The connected few trying to get rich by making the unconnected many pay for your gold plated pay and benefits including illegal retroactive pensions.

JF, including your benefits, virtually all PD and FF are making in or around $200K per year-that is in the top 3% of income earners in the nation-and this is not for a doctor, lawyer, CPA or some other highly educated and trained professional, but for a job that hires with a GED.

Last, Lou Dobbs is on CNN everyday at 4PM, if you were to watch him you would see he thinks CA is extremely mismanaged.

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JF Jan. 25, 2009 @ 6:44 a.m.

Johnny, you just can't get over this $200K thing, can you? At least we're making progress. First it was ALL firefighters make $250K, then it was ALL make $200K, including OT, now it's virtually all make $200K. Maybe in the next year or two, you'll reach reality.

You've been squawking about how retirement costs 100% of salary. That's pure BS. The figures from DeMaio show that. Same with health care. I'm assuming you believe DeMaio's numbers.

So a top step firefighter makes $67K/year base. Add 26% retirement and 9.5% health care and you get $114K. A battalion chief makes around $100K. With health care and retirement that's $135K. A firefighter would have to make $85K and a battalion chief would have to make $65K in OT to make $200K. I'm oversimplifying a little, but I'm hitting the high notes. I'm probably about 10% low due to retiree health care and offset. Offset is lower for us, so I didn't calculate it.

Even including benefits, few firefighters make it to $150K.

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