Over the next two weeks, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and city department directors are spelling out the doom and gloom of what will happen if voters fail to pass Proposition D‘s sales tax hike.

Budget cuts totaling $75 million would result in police officer and firefighter layoffs and closed libraries, recreation centers and pools.

The message is stark.

It’s not a matter of if someone dies as a result of a lack of public safety, Fire Chief Javier Mainar told a crowd Monday night at a town hall meeting in University City, “it’s a matter of when it’s going to happen.”

But even if Prop. D fails, all of the proposed cuts discussed at the meetings won’t happen.

City Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone said cuts are just one factor Sanders will consider if budget reductions are needed for next year. The mayor could also go after new revenue that doesn’t require voter approval or one-time pots of money the city could find.

Further, Goldstone said, making cuts in the middle of the year — like the city has done before — could shave $20 million off the 2012 deficit.

To be sure, new money sources that don’t require voter approval won’t make up next year’s gap by themselves. And budget hawks have long decried the use of one-time fixes for the city’s long-term problems.

Goldstone said the city was studying increasing downtown parking fees and potentially eliminating free trash pickup for residents that live on private streets.

In the spring, the Office of the Independent Budget Analyst examined revenue options that don’t require voter approval, but couldn’t estimate how much money they would bring to the city.

Also, the IBA report found that commonly mentioned options like paid parking at city beaches and parks have substantial legal complications.

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

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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