Closing the $180M Gap

By Monica Dean
|  Tuesday, Nov 24, 2009  |  Updated 11:16 PM PDT
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Why We Love San Diego Gallery I

Fewer fire rigs on San Diego's streets, and fewer lifeguards on city beaches

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Closing the $180M Gap

Cuts to services and jobs are likely in the city's future.

Budget Ax Set to Swing at Fire/Rescue

Mayor Jerry Sanders wants $35 million cut just from the fire/rescue department.
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The hole in San Diego's budget has gotten bigger than ever and closing it will cost hundreds of city workers their jobs.

Mayor Jerry Sanders will announce his plans for major cuts to city services Tuesday afternoon, what he considers necessary to close the $180 million budget gap.

The City Council will then review the proposals and could make changes before deciding on final approval.

There's a lot at stake here. Hundreds of city jobs translates to a decrease in the already-reduced level of services San Diegans have been getting.

Libraries would be open fewer days and fewer hours.

In this economic climate, the mayor's not about to turn to taxation. So it's more cutting of expenses -- and that means jobs and city services -- and public safety is not immune.

Under Sanders' plan, the city wouldn't target public safety workers but police and fire departments would see deep program cuts.

The police department would lose 86 filled positions, but no sworn personnel and 12 canine units would be eliminated.

In certain cases fire stations may rotate resources -- having one fire engine sometimes instead of two. In the police department a chunk of the canine units would be eliminated.

Both the Police and Fire/Rescue departments are riddled with hundreds of vacancies in forces that already were leaner, per capita, than their counterparts in other comparable cities.

The Mayor is proposing ending lifeguard service at Torrey Pines Beach during the winter, reducing the number of city-owned vehicles, and reconfiguring of the work schedule for trash collectors, but the Mayor's office says this won’t lead to less-frequent trash pickup.

Sanders is hopeful the council will approve the cuts at their December 14 meeting. If so, there could be a plan in place by the first of the year so the city can avoid bigger cuts in the future.

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