In his first budget proposal for next year, Mayor Bob Filner faced down a $38.4 million budget gap in the city’s day-to-day fund and yet managed to dig up cash for new budget additions.
About a month later, he’s made room for more new items, including funding to keep the veteran’s homeless shelter open year-round, four new police staffers and even $50,000 for the seal cam at the La Jolla Children’s Pool.
Much of the extra cash comes from larger-than-expected revenues, which contributed to a $17 million surplus for this year. Filner wants to apply more than three-quarters of that cash to next year’s budget.
Here’s a look at some places Filner found cash for the city’s operating fund.
• $5.9 million in property taxes: The County Assessor’s Office projects an extra $2.6 million in property tax hauls and a $3.3 million hike in remaining payments following the dissolution of the city’s redevelopment agency.
• $3.8 million from tobacco settlements: Years ago, attorneys general from California and other states reached massive settlements with tobacco companies to cover costs associated with tobacco-related illnesses. This year, the city received an extra $3.8 million in settlement cash, which the mayor incorporated in his latest budget proposal.
• $1.6 million in lease savings: Filner’s office projects $1.6 million in savings after city staffers move from 600 B Street to 525 B Street later this year after the city’s current lease expires. Real-estate broker Jason Hughes recently helped the city secure that deal.
• $1.3 million in worker’s compensation savings: City officials had planned to contribute extra cash to a fund set aside for workers’ compensation costs next year but unexpected surpluses for this year helped the city replenish that cash sooner than planned. This allowed Filner to nix the $1.3 million general fund allocation for next year.
• $925,000 in city attorney cash: Goldsmith’s office regularly sets aside money from settlements, judgments and court costs associated with its enforcement of consumer and environmental protection laws. The city attorney’s office saw a $925,000 increase in those funds this year, and Filner penciled in that amount in city attorney’s office personnel additions in his revised budget.But this cash comes with a catch. Assistant City Attorney Mary Jo Lanzafame said this money can only be used to support attorneys and staffers who work on the cases. This additional funding partially offsets Filner’s initial $1.4 million reduction to the city attorney’s office budget, though Lanzafame said the office will continue to oppose any cuts. Even with this infusion, Lanzafame said, Filner’s budget would require staffing cutbacks.