For the purpose of discussion during the City Council's upcoming budget review process, below is a list of my priorities for the next budget year:
Restoration of Lifeguard Positions and Resources: Our beach and coastal areas are visited by tens of thousands of people every year, which requires the need for the city to provide adequate lifeguard services to ensure a safe environment for those visitors. However, the city's lifeguards have seen numerous cuts to their staffing and resources in recent budgets. The following positions and resources should be restored:
• Three Relief Positions
• Scheduling/ Administrative Sergeant
• Training Coordinator
• Outreach and Recruitment Lifeguard
• Lifeguard Captain/Operations personnel
• Fire/Multipurpose vessel
• Wellness Program
• Boating Academies
• Fireboat repair and replacement
Implementation of Citygate Working Group Five-Year plan: The update to the five-year plan at the January 25, 2012 PS&NS meeting outlined the funding needs for Year 2 of the implementation plan. In order to provide proper fire and life safety to San Diegans, the City must continue to stay on target with these funding needs. Each item from Years 1 & 2 of the plan should be funded in FY13.
Two Fire Academies for FY13: Fire-Rescue Department staffing levels need to be increased as many employees have been subject to mandatory callbacks to fully staff fire engines. In order to address the current and projected shortfall in staffing, at least two academies should be funded forFY13.
Restoration of Civilian Positions in the Police Department: Cutting civilian positions within the Police Department has a direct impact on sworn police officers' ability to be actively patrol our neighborhoods. Police support staff are vital and need to be retained so that our sworn officers are free to have a greater presence in our communities.
City Auditor Staff Position and Software Enhancements: It is important that we continue to increase the staff resources of the City Auditors Office. The City Auditor's ability to conduct comprehensive audits on various city departments and functions is vital in promoting accountability, efficiency and transparency in our city government. As such the FY13 budget should add at least one performance auditor position and allow for the procurement of an automated work paper software system. The software is common in the industry and will reduce the amount of staff time required on each audit.
Public Access to Council Docket Materials: It is important that the Council support the City Clerk's efforts to increase public access to Council dockets and streamline the distribution of docket material to the Council. To do so the FY13 budget should include:
o Reclassification of the Council Administrator II (CA II) position to an ISA position in an effort to launch, maintain and improve upon public access initiatives spearheaded by and residing in the Office of the City Clerk;
o Adequate funding for the annual licensing fees of an iPad application to give current docket binder users the ability to create an annotated version of the Docket and backup materials in support of the Office of the City Clerk's transition to a near-paperless docket.
Support Staff for Managed Competition Processes: Managed competition is an important tool the City has in achieving efficiency and budgetary savings. As such, the Business Office should add a staff position to ensure that functions going through managed competition are able do so efficiently and effectively. Additionally, the Independent Budget Analyst should add an additional staff position in order to effectively monitor and report to the Council on functions going through managed competition.
Neighborhood Parks and Recreation Centers Prioritization: Neighborhood parks and recreation centers throughout the city provide safe areas for recreation and family activities. The community parks that receive the most use, and therefore require higher levels of upkeep and maintenance, should be prioritized in the budget.
Expansion of Marketing Partnership Program: In the last year I have been impressed with the city's efforts to enter into marketing partnerships, which helps bring in much needed funding for various city services. I believe investing in an expansion of city efforts to find additional partnerships will yield greater benefits to the general fund.
Community Plan Update Funding: Continuing to update our community plans throughout the city is vital in providing a clear vision for the development preferences of each community. Allowing a process that brings all stakeholders to the table can only result in better planning within our communities. Funding for community plan updates needs to be retained and expanded to the fullest extent possible in order to allow our communities to properly plan for development and community amenities.
New San Ysidro Library: The current branch library in San Ysidro is one of the oldest (built in 1931), smallest (3,000 square feet) and outdated library facilities in the entire city. The construction of the new library has been long delayed. A site has been secured and the design and construction of the library needs to be funded. It is critical that this is a priority Capital Improvement Project in FY13.
Initiate Capital Improvement Project for La Media Road Improvements: La Media Road, between I-905 and Siempre Viva Road in the Otay Mesa community, is a route used by commercial vehicles accessing the border. Significant improvements (such as widening) are required on La Media Road as the city moves forward with plans to improve the road, provide better access to commercial vehicles crossing the border and addressing significant flooding issues, which often make the road impassable. Currently, no CIP exists to address these deficiencies, which has prevented the project from moving forward and has.hampered the city's ability to better facilitate international commerce.
Initiate Capital Improvement Project to Design Southwest Neighborhood Park in Otay Mesa/Nestor: The City owns undeveloped park land on 27th Street in the Otay Mesa/Nestor community. The design and development of the 11.4 acres into a Neighborhood Park was first proposed in 1992 and would provide much needed park space and be of great benefit to all members of the community. Children from Southwest Middle School as well as condominiums, apartments, and mobile homes within walking distance would benefit from the use. Currently no CIP exists for this project and in order to move forward funds need to be dedicated to the design of the park.
Increase Number of Joint Use Park Facilities: A number of areas throughout the city lack park space for residents to utilize. Partnering with local school districts to share the construction and/or maintenance and operation costs is an excellent way to open up existing or proposed park space to neighborhoods when the area is not being used by the school. Pursuing such partnerships, particularly with school districts which currently do not have agreement with the City, should be a goal in the upcoming year.
Pursue Outside Funding Opportunities for Capital Improvement Projects throughout the City: As the city looks to identify funding for capital improvement projects, I believe both private and public (local, state and federal) funding sources should be actively pursued for projects not yet fully funded.