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San Diego Citizens' Budget Plan

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Publication Date: June 2004

Publisher(s): Reason Foundation

Topic: Government (Local and municipal government)

Type: Report

Coverage: California


The Mayor and Council budgets have skyrocketed in the past 10 years, despite the worsening condition of the City's finances. Moreover, when comparing the budget for the Mayor and Council with other cities, it is clear that the Mayor and Council budgets are bloated.

In the budget review, Phoenix was selected as the best comparison to San Diego for several reasons. First, Phoenix is one size larger than San Diego population-wise. Second, Phoenix has the same governance structure as San Diego: a Council-Manager system of government with 8 Council Members and a Mayor. Despite Phoenix being larger, San Diego's Mayor and Council budgets are still $4.9 million more! The excessive spending by the Mayor and Council on their personal staff is worse than the public budgets for the Office of the Mayor and City Council depict. The budget review uncovered more than $1.1 million in expenditures for the Mayor and City Council buried in the budget for "City-Wide Expenditures." Moreover, an undisclosed sum is spent to provide security services for the Mayor--presumably a reduction in the Police Department budget. A curious inequality exists among individual offices for City Council Members. As citizens deserve equal representation, the budgets for each Council Member should be equalized.