Fiscal Year 2016 Adopted Budget
A Message From Mayor Faulconer
To the Members of the City Council and the Residents of San Diego:
I am pleased to present a balanced Fiscal Year 2016 Adopted Budget. The Adopted Budget continues to put neighborhoods first by prioritizing investment in important neighborhood services and infrastructure while maintaining a strong commitment to responsible financial management.
The Adopted Budget works to build "One San Diego" where residents in every community have the opportunity to succeed. There is a renewed emphasis in infrastructure repair, rebuilding the San Diego Police Department, enhancing Parks and Recreation center hours, increasing afterschool programs and broadband access in City libraries, providing additional support and housing opportunities for the homeless, expanding of youth summer employment opportunities and continuing my administration's commitment to transparency and open data initiatives. This Adopted Budget supports the goals of the City of San Diego Strategic Plan: Provide high quality public service, work in partnership with all of our communities to achieve safe and livable neighborhoods, and create and sustain a resilient and economically prosperous city.
Repairing Streets and Investing in Infrastructure
The City's highest infrastructure priority remains street repair. I have committed to repairing 1,000 miles of streets over the next five years, a plan that doubles street repair work throughout San Diego and equals roughly one-third of the City's entire street network. Funding comes from a multitude of sources, including bond proceeds, Proposition 42 replacement funds, and TransNet funds. Key infrastructure investments funded by the General Fund include park improvements, streetlights, fire stations, storm drain maintenance and facilities maintenance.
The Adopted Budget also includes the City's planned capital bond program to assist in the long-term financing of vital infrastructure projects. $120 million deferred capital bonds were delayed one year due to litigation but were recently issued after the City prevailed in court. The bonds include funding for street paving, sidewalks, fire stations and libraries throughout San Diego.
Safe and Livable Neighborhoods
Every San Diegan deserves to feel safe in his or her neighborhood. The Adopted Budget prioritizes services that reduce and prevent crime through timely and effective response in all communities.
Retaining and recruiting police officers to grow and strengthen the San Diego Police Department has been a large focus over the past year. On March 23, 2015, the City Council approved a tentative agreement reached between my administration and the San Diego Police Officers Association. The agreement establishes a pay increase of approximately 6.6 percent over five years and complies with Comprehensive Pension Reform's (Proposition B, approved June 2012) freeze on pensionable pay. The Adopted Budget provides funding to implement the first year of this agreement as well as increases for additional police civilian positions, additional police academy attendees, body cameras, and an upgrade to the police computer-aided dispatch system.
Safe communities require well staffed and equipped fire crews and emergency first responders. The Adopted Budget includes increased funding for two additional fire academies to help alleviate expected retirements in Fiscal Year 2016. It incorporates staffing and operational needs for the temporary fire station in Skyline and the permanent station at Eastside Mission Valley. It also allocates funding for two Fast Response Programs as recommended in the Citygate report. These public safety investments will help improve emergency response times.
San Diego's beaches and bays are significant attractions to residents and visitors each year, with unique public safety challenges. City lifeguards are responsible for providing the highest quality safety services in the coastal and aquatic environment. In line with the top priorities from the Lifeguard Division Five-Year Needs Assessment report, the Adopted Budget provides for an advanced lifeguard academy, additional lifeguard positions and a lifeguard vessel replacement funding mechanism.
An Economically Prosperous City with Opportunity in Every Community
No matter where you live in our great city, everyone deserves equal access to opportunities. The Adopted Budget emphasizes programs that create dynamic, connected and sustainable neighborhoods. Quality neighborhood services are integral to building stronger, more resilient communities.
The Adopted Budget significantly increases hours for the 36 recreation centers throughout San Diego and provides additional funding to expand the successful 'Do Your Homework @ the Library' program into the summer months to better serve San Diego students and families. This budget also adds hours at 23 library branches and the Central Library, increases bandwidth speeds at all branch libraries and adds staffing and operational support for several new recreation facilities expected to become fully operational during the fiscal year. Funds for much-needed park facility repairs to aging playgrounds and recreation centers are included. Funding has also been allocated to the San Diego Workforce Partnership's "Connect2Careers" program to increase employment opportunities for San Diego youth to build a strong, 21st Century workforce that diversifies and grows the local economy.
The Adopted Budget funds community plan updates - the blueprints for community development and growth. By updating community plans, the City can incentivize economic revitalization and help neighborhoods flourish with better transportation options and improved access to services and commerce.
The Adopted Budget also reflects a commitment to helping homeless veterans and individuals with a renewed focus on permanent solutions to ending homelessness. In total, approximately $2 million is provided for programs that connect the homeless with housing opportunities and rehabilitative services that transform lives.
Excellent Customer Service and Open Government
Increasing government transparency using technology continues to be a priority in the Fiscal Year 2016 Adopted Budget. Increased funding has been included to add positions to implement the City's new open data policy, which will result in more helpful information on the City website.
To better serve taxpayers and provide a high quality of customer service, the Adopted Budget includes funding for a resident satisfaction survey that will be used to help make City operations more efficient and effective. Collecting meaningful feedback promotes a customer-focused culture that values accessible, consistent and predictable delivery of services.
Strong Financial Management and Commitment to Operational Efficiencies
The City's fiscal health is the result of strong financial management policies, well established long-term financial planning, and a comprehensive plan to address both pension and retiree health care costs. Fitch Ratings has cited the City's solid financial operations resulting from ongoing commitment to conservative fiscal management policies, general fund balance and reserves preservation, financial disclosure practices, and pension and retiree health care reform as some of the key drivers to the City's favorable credit ratings. Standard & Poor's Ratings Service has cited the City's very strong management and fiscal policies, including five-year financial forecasting, a policy of maintaining emergency and stability reserves, and strong budgetary oversight as some of the key drivers to our favorable rating. This commitment to fiscal stability and good financial management continues to support a healthy financial future. The Fiscal Year 2016 Adopted Budget protects General Fund reserves while allowing for increases in the priority projects identified above.
As a result of the five-year labor agreements effective Fiscal Year 2014 entered into with six recognized employee organizations, the Fiscal Year 2016 Adopted Budget benefits from savings from a continued pensionable pay freeze. These agreements bring certainty to the cost of labor, which is important for future budgets and resource allocation. The Adopted Budget also includes efficiency savings and cost reductions accrued from previous managed competitions for City functions.
In August 2014 the City launched San Diego Works, a new efficiency program to complement competitive bidding for City services. Working with labor organizations, this program challenges City employees to develop proposals that enhance service levels while also delivering budgetary savings. Successful proposals, and the corresponding budget reductions, were incorporated into the Fiscal Year 2016 Adopted Budget. In addition, I have asked all City departments to continue to provide innovative ideas for cost reductions and efficiencies, encouraging a culture of continuous improvement and open communication.
The Fiscal Year 2016 Adopted Budget continues to create opportunities for San Diegans in every neighborhood. It prioritizes services and programs that will continue to support "One San Diego" where all neighborhoods can thrive, more San Diegans can have access to economic opportunity, and our city government is open, effective and efficient. The Adopted Budget increases funding for infrastructure improvements and public safety, continues to restore neighborhood services, funds homeless programs and customer service initiatives, and maintains sound financial practices that have resulted in improved credit ratings.
I want to acknowledge the City Council for its collaboration during the budget adoption process. I thank our City employees for their continued commitment to providing outstanding service and ensuring a balanced, accurate and transparent budget.
Kevin L. Faulconer