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The business community has decided the best hope for the city of San Diego’s future is the business community.

Proposition D, business leaders have concluded, does not solve the city’s recurring budget problems. With some tweaks, they think it might.

“In and of itself, Measure D does not solve the structural deficit of the city,” said Ruben Barrales, the president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

This morning, the Chamber postponed a decision on endorsing Proposition D after Mayor Jerry Sanders requested more time to prove the city was serious about cutting expenses. Prop. D would temporarily increase the city’s sales tax once 10 fiscal reforms took place.

Earlier this week, a group of business leaders handed the mayor a proposal, he said, that would set more specific targets for the Prop. D reform measures.

Right now, estimates developed by the Mayor’s Office show Prop. D’s reforms could save between $626,000 to $85.5 million a year, quite a gulf.

The business group’s proposal, Sanders said, requires $70 million in permanent cuts from the city’s annual budget and puts the new sales tax revenue toward the city’s debts.

“It’s something I think makes sense for us to take a look at,” Sanders said.

Sanders didn’t know if City Council would put any proposal on its agenda.

The business group is not directly affiliated with the Chamber though it shares some members. Sanders called the group, the “Strategic Roundtable.” But you might know it by another name.

Last fall, a task force of the mayor’s business confidants released a report recommending drastic changes to city finances. The Mayor’s Office quickly distanced itself from that effort, but the same group now is behind this proposal.

In a brief interview, Vince Mudd, the group’s leader, said the business community wanted to see Prop. D end the city’s recurring deficits. He believed Sanders and the council were working to do that.

“If they’re able to address that disconnect, then the Chamber will have all the information in front of them and be able to make an informed decision,” Mudd said.

Sanders said Mudd’s group gave him their proposal on Monday. I have requested the document from both the Mayor’s Office and Mudd.

It remains to be seen how much any proposal would sway business leaders toward the proposition. As Prop. D opponents already have noted, any council resolution about where to spend sales tax revenue or how much savings to achieve could be disregarded. The ballot measure’s wording and requirements are set in stone and cannot be altered by council action.

Sanders wasn’t sure he could get Chamber support no matter what was passed now.

“I’m not sure there’s probably anything that could get them to endorse Prop. D,” he said. “They’re business people and they’ve got a membership and they don’t believe a half-cent sales tax is the way to go about doing this. I’ve told them that I don’t have any other way.”

The Chamber has scheduled a special Prop. D endorsement meeting for Oct. 7.

Please contact Liam Dillon directly at liam.dillon@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5663 and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/dillonliam.

Liam Dillon

Liam Dillon was formerly a senior reporter and assistant editor for Voice of San Diego. He led VOSD’s investigations and wrote about how regular people...

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