This is a time of crisis, for the City of San Diego. Wall Street is not going to help us out of the current year’s cash-flow problem that is pitting our public safety against our community resources.
To begin a rational discussion about priorities we select as a city, I compiled the attached comparison of general fund expenditures on city departments from the time of economic boom, prior to Mayor Sanders assuming office (FY2005), to the current proposed budget (FY2012). One problem we face in such comparisons, is that functions morph from one department to another, as governance and leadership changes. I have tried to match the closest primary function of each department between the years, grouping them together, so we can understand the changes. I will be happy to make adjustments, based on feedback from readers and the City.
Here are some observations:
• Since FY2005, expenditures have been flat, when adjusted for inflation. The impact of population growth, has not been taken into account, which might vary for each department effected.
• The biggest winners have been the City Treasurer and Financial Management. This is especially attributable to organizational changes by Mayor Sanders, and fiscal reform. He created several new departments: Office of the Chief Financial Officer, Financial Management, Purchasing & Contracting, and Debt Management. These four departments combined expend over 3 times in FY2012 the expenditures of Financial Management in FY2005.
• In addition, one of the largest increase over the course of seven years is in Engineering & Capital Projects.
• It is no surprise that the biggest losers in dollars are Library and Park & Recreation departments. The biggest impact in relative proportion is to General Services, which clean streets and maintain facilities.
I hope that this will give us an insight, as we do not need to give Wall Street consultants and contractors the first priority. Departments that provide direct services to our residents should be first priority.
Murtaza Baxamusa is the Director of Planning and Development for the San Diego Building Trades Family Housing Corporation. He lives in Bird Rock.