Thursday, October 07, 2010

San Diego Budgeting

San Diego is still struggling with a deficit that amounts to about 20% of our operations budget, and the mayor has presented an initiative that would raise our local sales tax from 8.75% to 9.25% to cover a portion of the shortfall. In a wild flurry of fairness to citizens, the tax would not take effect unless the City Council first takes certain “cost effectiveness” measures, which do not include cutting their own salaries.

Hizzonor the Mayor is warning telling us that if the sales tax initiative is not passed that many, many city employees will lose their jobs, including mostly firefighters and policemen. Would anyone like to make a guess as to why those jobs are the ones at risk?

News coverage is focused on the individuals who will become unemployed, providing interviews with policemen who may get laid off and with their families, and expressing concern for their welfare. I’m not unsympathetic with anyone who’s worried about losing a job, but I think we’re focused on the wrong aspect of the issue, here.

San Diego, as a city, does not exist for the purpose of providing jobs for its employees, and the issue when employment is reduced should not be what happens to the employees, it should be about what happens to the services those employees provide to the residents of the city. If police officers are laid off, the issue that should concern us is how much less safe will be the City of San Diego?

The newspaper has not asked that question, and neither has one television station that I have seen. They have all been too busy being heartwarmingly concerned about what will happen to the firefighters and policemen who might lose their jobs.

1 comment:

bruce said...

Cost saving measures should include city government as well.. has no one learned from the Bell scandal? It seems the San Diego City Council has not.

Public safety jobs are at risk for two reasons - 1) easiest to scare voters into voting for the tax increase and 2) a large portion of the city budget goes to pay for public safety, so it makes it a tempting target.

This tax issue as well and the budget as a whole affects everyone - so the focus should be on the whole city, not just individuals.

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