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Someone please send a dozen cases of aspirin to City Hall. And make it snappy.
The city of San Diego announced yesterday that it expects to face a $179 million deficit in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
The projected shortfall is equivalent to 16 percent of this year’s city budget and enough to pay for the parks and engineering departments, the treasurer and the comptroller, with some change left over. It’s also roughly enough to pay for 2,387 employees, 22 percent of the city’s workforce.
“Make no mistake about it, there will be cuts and the public will feel them,” Mayor Jerry Sanders warned.
We’ve got a roundup of reactions.
In other news:
- Each year, $10 million in rebates reimburse Southern Californians who spent money on water-saving strategies like artificial turf, high-efficiency toilets and clothes washers. It sounds like a good deal: give people money so they’ll save water. What’s not to like?
Lots, say critics, including the San Diego County Water Authority. It wants regional water officials to spend the money to audit water usage and teach people how to save water.
- The local airport authority board is cracking down on hotel and meal expenses by board members. They’ll now have per diems based on federal standards.
More discussion is to come, including what to do about employee expenses, which have included $99 dinners courtesy of the public.
A couple months ago, board chairman Bob Watkins suggested that caps on expenses like a “limited budget of 25 bucks for dinner” (imagine!) could lead to trouble if an employee gets wooed: “you’ve got Dallas airport who would love to have him who says we’ll give you an open checkbook, what’s he going to do in making a decision?”
Funny thing. It turns out the Dallas airport actually limits employee expenses.
- Councilman Tony Young wants alternatives to a city-funded winter homeless shelter: he’s asking the city to look into housing the homeless at existing shelters and has raised the idea of giving motel vouchers to the homeless.
- Also: In a blog post, the head of the San Diego schoolteachers union tackles the issue of how to prevent officials from giving teachers too much work … And the city’s contract ambulance service helped fewer people over the last fiscal year but spent more on those who can’t or won’t pay.
- Our readers are continuing to debate the value of the monthly Critical Mass protests, which fill the streets with hordes of bicyclists who ignore street signs and stoplights. “This is a very dangerous situation,” says one letter writer, while commenters call the bicyclists “knuckleheads” and “numbskulls”. But one commenter points out that lawless drivers kill, and bicyclists, for the most part, only annoy.
- Elsewhere: A judge ruled that the city of San Diego doesn’t have to pay homeowners for damages caused during the 2007 landslide in La Jolla (U-T) …
The sheriff’s department brought a “sound cannon,” a device that can be used to subdue crowds with ear-piercing noise, to two congressional town hall meetings. A sheriff’s spokesman said the device only served as a public-address system, but one congressman is miffed. (NCT) …
- Finally: Mayor Sanders blames the deficit on the recession and last year’s stock-market crash. But three years ago, his office predicted the deficit in 2010-2011 would be $179 million. Amazingly, that was right on target.
Does somebody have the world’s most awesome crystal ball? Nah, says the city’s chief operating officer, who calls it “mere coincidence.”
If you say so. Still, whoever made that prediction is welcome to join me on my next trip to Las Vegas.