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In my story today on the mayor’s budget proposal, I focused mostly on the idea of tapping into one-time reserves to close a $60 million budget gap.

The bigger dollar item, however, is the cuts to worker compensation, which Mayor Jerry Sanders has said could net $30 million. The mayor is at impasse with all five unions and the City Council is slated to hold a hearing on the issue this afternoon.

During Monday’s press conference, Sanders mentioned that he and his staff would also be taking a 6 percent cut in their compensation.

Of course, the Union-Tribune recently revealed that Sanders quietly began collecting his full $100,464 salary and pension when he started his second term in December. In 2005, Sanders had promised he would work for only a fraction of his salary to avoid “double dipping.”

Here’s what Sanders had to say about the issue today:

Let me be very clear with you: I donated $192,000 (the total amount of salary he didn’t take during his first term) to the city of San Diego. I couldn’t afford to continue that donation. So my salary’s what it should be by city ordinance, so I’m going to take 6 percent off of that. I think that’s very fair.

Also, Sanders denied that his decision to take his full salary would make it more difficult to convince other city employees to accept pay cuts. He didn’t go into specifics regarding how management compensation would be cut, saying that the cuts will “reflect what the rank and file get.” Possibilities include asking employees to pick up a larger share of their retirement contributions or health care.

Sanders signaled Monday that those cuts may depend on whether the City Council goes along with concessions at today’s meeting.

“I don’t think it’s fair to ask our folks to take more than anybody else,” Sanders said, “but we’ll reflect it across the board.”

RANI GUPTA

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