I’m back again with more reader-generated budget cut ideas. I received a detailed list of ideas/comments from a reader who is particularly well-versed on how the city operates, and wants to remain anonymous — we’ll call this person “Deep Budget.”

Most of Deep Budget’s suggestions focus on public safety, but they also encompass several other departments. Here they are, broken down by category.

Lifeguard Services:

  • Cliff Rescue Unit. It is redundant — Fire Rescue Operations is qualified for 24 hour response. Lifeguards are called during the day. Fire Rescue Operations is available during those hours.
  • River Rescue Unit — It is redundant. This service exists elsewhere. The Unit ends up patrolling the San Diego River and Tijuana River a couple of times a year. They spend a lot of money each year to send a team out of state for training.
  • Boating Safety Unit — Give it back to Harbor Police — from where it came. The current Lifeguard Chief came from Harbor Police when they took them off Mission Bay. They are still on San Diego Bay.
  • Fire and Lifeguard — Span of Control. The Chief has a span of control of one captain. The captain position is relatively new. Either the Chief position or the captain position needs to go. With the Junior Lifeguard Program ending, one of the Lts. Positions can go too. The civilian manager position was hired to do the Lts. Job. I think they have a lifeguard acting as their budget analyst — quite a struggle of loyalty.
  • Lifeguard Services — Beach Bars and Mooring — These are not cost recoverable programs. When is the last time someone took a look at the fees? Where else can you store a boat on the bay for $99 a year? The cost and administration of printing decals every year and fielding a million calls is something private sector can do.

Fire:

  • Fire Staffing at the Convention Center — The Fire “marshal” assigned to the Convention Center is not cost recoverable. The Center gets free permits and does not pay required overtime per Local 145 requirements. The Convention Center uses political pressure to bend rules and regulations on interior building and activities.

Park and Recreation:

How much money is budgeted for each pool? The pools up north are beautiful with play areas blah blah blah — it takes about 10 guards to (staff) them during the summer yet it cost a kid the same entry fee to go to a tiny pool at Colina De Sol with less open hours and maybe two guards. No one has been able to get the pool budgets out of Park and Rec. The individual budgets can be submitted. They will say the pools are older so they take more maintenance money. Show us. Where is the transparent budget?

Miscellaneous:

  • Community Service Centers — The original purpose for center centers was to take government to the people. However, after great fanfare and expanding the centers every year, it never happened. Departments were supposed to site code enforcement, and EOCP, and Grafitti and Police reps, and Engineering and Planning officials. They would report to the Center Manager. The departments would not give up the power over employees so it never happened. The managers were not funded and so still had to perform there old job at a host department plus run the Centers. There was supposed to be time to work with the community to help them through the City morass. But they ended up doing the work themselves not the manager level work they were hired for. The Director is responsible for that — a new-hire of Jerry’s Customer Services Department became — a training program for Nordstrom’s — she never understood the program was to help people become more knowledgeable with government not just make them happy. What a waste of time and money.
  • Stop building the Phase III of the Convention Center. Just stop. [Do an] audit NOW of what they are doing, how they are doing it, payment structures, contracts and how this affects the city. The Convention Center is public property. They are subject to paying the living wage and all of the other regulations regarding building, activities and permitting and paying City staff as anyone else.
  • Management Analysts — Individual Departments — Staffing management (budget) analysts both at the individual departments and divisions as well as Financial Management is redundant. It used to be fun — when there was money. A game really — a department analyst with loyalty to their department and FM analysts to thwart them. Department analysts would look for ways to get staffing and funds past the FM analyst. Every year, there would be a new strategy from FM to frustrate the department analyst — zero-based budgeting, performance measures, blah blah blah. Busy work. This luxury is no longer affordable. Analysts should be beholden to FM not individual departments. Plus, there is no reason to have a Senior Management Analyst classification. Supervising Analysts should be unclassified positions.
  • Volunteers — Volunteers CAN NOT replace paid staff. It is in the Admin regulations and the Union MOU. Lani Lutar must not have put very much thought into that one. The Volunteer Program was cut out years ago. Over the years the individuals in departments who coordinated the efforts have been cut also. You can’t just have people come in to volunteer when they feel like it. Volunteers are unpaid employees. They have the same rights as employees — workers comp for example. Volunteers need to be background checked, they need identification for access, they can’t work around confidential information (HIPA) or water supplies per law. There is no one to recruit them, vet them, interview them, write job descriptions, train them, track their hours, support the required supervision , prepare reports of usage, handle ongoing issues and problems and interact with Volunteer San Diego for new ideas and other organizations to solicit funding for recognition of the volunteers.

Thanks much, Deep Budget. Do you have any more suggestions? E-mail me at david.washburn@voiceofsandiego.org

DAVID WASHBURN

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