Councilmember Carl DeMaio isn’t the only budget watchdog in town. On Thursday, April 30, District 7 representative Marti Emerald issued a memo to Budget Review Committee chair Tony Young that listed a few of her ideas for fiscal reform.
Emerald objects to the mayor using over $22 million from reserves to balance the $62 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2010.
“While I appreciate the initial efforts of the mayor to balance the upcoming budget, I do not agree with the premise of using one-time reserve funds to do the job,” says Emerald in an April 30 press release.
Instead of using one-time funds, former consumer-reporter-turned-politico Emerald is looking to each department head to identify two significant expenses from their budget that could be “eliminated, absorbed into another function, or reduced” — EAR, for short.
Emerald says it’s the department managers that are most knowledgeable and qualified to suggest ways to trim the fat from the city budget without impacting levels of city services. Cutting from each department, says Emerald, is a way to locate long-term savings instead of the one-time relief proposed within the mayor’s budget.
“Hopefully, the departments’ EAR items would make up the majority of the remaining cost reductions needed for FY10 of $22.1 million,” says Emerald in the memo. “This would allow the reserve funds to stay as reserves in contemplation of future challenges.”
The memo addressed to councilmember Young was also sent to the mayor’s office, Emerald’s colleagues on the council, city attorney Jan Goldsmith, and independent budget analyst Andrea Tevlin. Emerald included a copy of the form that will be sent to department managers during the next two weeks while the mayor’s budget is reviewed.
The form (with a clip-art image of a person shouting in an oversized ear...get it? E.A.R.?) includes space for department managers to identify services that might be eliminated, absorbed, or reduced from their budget.
In her memo, Emerald also pledged support for creating a citizens' advisory task force on city services for the purpose of determining exactly what services residents are willing to support and what services they are willing to go without in future years.
For more on Emerald, go to sandiego.gov/citycouncil/cd7