Public officials are talking about serious reductions in public safety funding this year, which is a shift from previous budget discussions. You can read more about some of the potential cuts in my story today.
Mayor Jerry Sanders last month asked the public safety departments to submit budget-cut proposals that total $107 million, or about one-fifth of the city’s total spending on police, fire and rescue services. Sanders is now considering those proposals, which includes eliminating about 400 vacant positions from the departments.
For some perspective, $107 million is about one-tenth of the city’s total operating budget. Officials are talking about public safety cutbacks because it’s simply the largest pool of money. About half of the city’s operating budget goes to the Police Department and the Fire-Rescue Department every year.
I mentioned in my story that police officials have been less forthcoming than fire officials when talking about potential budget cuts. Alan Arrollado, secretary treasurer for the local firefighter’s union, said he expects to see significant cuts.
“I’m almost positive there’s going to be less fire engines responding to emergencies starting Jan. 1,” Arrollado said. “We understand the difficult position that [policymakers are] in.”
In response to my questions about potential cuts, the police union sent me a statement from October. The statement was a response to the city’s new five-year financial forecast.
“The San Diego Police Officers Association fully appreciates the difficult financial choices confronting the mayor and City Council. This budget shortfall will test their past promises to the citizens of San Diego that they will always make public safety their top budget priority.”