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A few weeks ago, I found it encouraging that even though Chula Vista was facing a disastrous budget shortfall, at least the interim city manager was making City Hall deal with it months in advance. This allows employees time to prepare for the worst and it makes it so that as thorough a discussion about city priorities can happen as possible.

San Diego City Councilman Tony Young called me last week with some encouraging news. He is the new head of the city’s budget committee and he claims he’s committed to starting the budget process now. It’s pretty much a given that the city will either have to make the toughest cuts it has in recent memory or the boldest tax increases.

Tony Young: Hey, relax with the budget. I got this.

Whatever they decide, it’s going to take a good discussion of priorities.

He said he’s planning the best one of those the city’s had in a while. He’s going to release a schedule of special hearings and he says he plans to ask or demand that the city’s labor unions come up with their own solutions. If they don’t want to be blamed like they claim they always are, they will have to come up with their own answers for bridging the gap between the amount of money the city has coming in and the amount of money it owes.

We’ll see.

He said the City Council cannot just wait this year to see what the mayor proposes to cut.

“Nothing against the mayor, but each of these past few cycles, they basically present the whole budget and say this is what we’re going to do and give very little time for public input and discussion,” Young said.

And if you want to close down libraries, or raise taxes or whatever, it takes time to get people used to the idea. Maybe they have other priorities.

So stay tuned for Young’s schedule and invitation. And be sure to send him your priorities.

Maybe the early birds will get their worms.

SCOTT LEWIS

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