Sadly, the future of San Diego’s young people has been mortgaged by past leaders in City Hall. And this problem will continue to be perpetuated unless someone puts a stop to it. That should be you, the young people of San Diego. After all, it is you, the next generation, who will have to pay the price of this terrible trick our elected officials have played on the citizens of San Diego.

For the last 15 years, San Diego has not been paying all it bills for the expenses it has incurred. City Hall promised the city employees extremely rich benefits it could not afford. It simply did not fully pay for them when it incurred the expenses each year.

You, the young people of San Diego, the future taxpayers of San Diego, you will pay for this. Someone has to, and guess what, you are it! Does that make you mad? It ought to. You have been done a terrible disservice. You ought to be mad as hell!

The city has built up a $2.1 billion liability for pensions already earned but not paid for by the taxpayers in the years these expenses were incurred.

Then there is the $1.3 billion liability for retiree healthcare, again, already earned but not paid for.

Then there is the $800 million-plus of deferred maintenance — the potholes in the streets, the broken side walks and storm drains. This is maintenance work that should have been done and paid for by taxpayers in past years but was not. Instead, it was deferred due to a “shortage of funds.”

All of these total $4.2 billion! Compare that to an annual general fund operating budget of some $1.1 billion — the past-due debts are almost four times the city’s budget for current services in a single year.

Yes, $4.2 billion! That is the amount you the young folks of San Diego will get to pay in the future for all this. That is where your tax dollars will go instead of paying for current services like police and fire, parks and libraries. The City plans to pay off this $4.2 billion over the next 15 to 30 years, so you will be living with this burden for a long, long time.

Already in the 2012 budget projection some $215 million — almost 20% — of the general fund budget will be spent on prior year’s bills instead of current services. And the current city leaders seem intent on continuing the practices of the past and pushing more cost out to future years’ taxpayers. That means to you, the young people of San Diego.

So get involved now as the city’s new 2012 budget is being debated. Get informed, speak out and put a stop to this now! It has gone on for far too long already. You, the young folks of San Diego, are already in a very deep hole, none of which was your doing. Don’t let it become worse. Make the City leaders deal with their problems now. Don’t let them push any more off on to you to pay when they will be long gone and forgotten.

Dick Vortmann is the former president of NASSCO, the shipbuilder.

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