San Diego’s mayor makes tweaks to the budget with every iteration but some of its basic elements don’t change much from year to year.

What’s different draws the most attention in local debate and news stories — who got less money, what got moved up in the receiving line. But each year brings at least one constant challenge: While the mayor must balance revenues with unexpected budget hits, he or she also incorporates similar city department expenses each year.

Here’s a simple breakdown of the most basic elements of Mayor Bob Filner’s first proposed budget and how it compares to predecessor Jerry Sanders’ adopted budget for last year:

As you can see, most budget elements didn’t drastically shift. Planned capital improvements spending saw the greatest fluctuation. Our Liam Dillon explained the decrease in a Monday post.

Like most businesses, the city’s budget is largely skewed toward staff salaries and related costs. Public utilities — which includes the city’s management of drinking water and wastewater — and safety make up the largest chunk of city spending when it comes to individual departments.

Here’s a pie chart that reveals the city’s largest departments by total expenses.

Click to enlarge.

And here’s a look at the cost associated with each city department.

Click to enlarge.

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at or 619.325.0528.

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Lisa Halverstadt

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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