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Statement: “Our laser-like focus on this problem has also had us dwell mostly on the general fund part of the city’s budget and services, approximately $1.42 billion,” Tony Young, San Diego City Council President, in a written address released to the media Jan. 4.
Analysis: In an unanimous vote, the San Diego City Council named Tony Young council president last month. It’s an important job. The council president is similar to the Speaker of the House in Congress. He controls the council agenda and makes committee assignments.
As he’s settling into his new role this week, Young set out his priorities for the year, which given his role likely will be the council’s priorities, too. Predictably, they include a focus on the city’s budget problems.
He believes the city should spend as much time on its total budget, which includes standalone departments such as water and wastewater as its day-to-day operating budget, or general fund, which pays for services such as police and fire.
In making his point, Young got a key number wrong. This year, the city’s day-to-day operating budget, or general fund, is $1.1 billion, more than $300 million less than what he said.
While the point might seem minor, keep in mind that Young was chairman of the city’s budget and finance committee the last two years. His address also was important. He said in an interview that it represented his governing philosophy. “I put everything that I believe into this,” he said.
Young acknowledged the mistake, blaming it on a staff error.
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