The city of San Diego will be focused on budgeting this week, as Mayor Jerry Sanders begins unfurling his proposed spending plan for the coming year and the City Council continues to mull how it will oversee the cuts Sanders makes midyear.

Sanders’ budget proposal is slated to be released in its entirety Friday, but a press conference scheduled for this afternoon hints that the mayor will slowly unveil pieces he wants to highlight through the week, as he did last year. The budget is expected to reflect Sanders’ five-year financial forecast, which estimates an $87 million funding gap for the coming 2008 fiscal year.

Another budgeting issue will come up Tuesday, when the City Council chooses between two different pieces of legislation that would provide the council with more discretion over Sanders’ midyear budget cuts.

The council tentatively approved a rule that would force the mayor to seek the council’s approval for any midyear cut that “materially or substantially” affects levels of service. But Sanders and some council members are proposing a compromise that would subject cuts above $4 million or 10 percent of a department’s budget to a council vote.

At Monday’s meeting, council members will consider adopting the 25-percent pay increases for themselves and the mayor that an independent commission recommended last year. The Salary Setting Commission, which is made up of private citizens, said the increases are needed in order to attract “interested, capable, hard-working people who do not possess independent wealth to run for office.” Sanders’ spokesman said the mayor is not supporting the proposed increase.

The council on Tuesday will also vote to settle a lawsuit brought by environmentalists. The group, Save Our Forests and Ranchlands, wants the city to study alternative transit concepts downtown, but the city refused to include the analysis in its update of the growth blueprint for the area last year. The settlement would require the new study.


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