Jun 1, 2016 (San Diego) Prop H was proposed by the San Diego City Council as part of the solution to our infrastructure woes. The city has a deficit of $1.7 billion dollars, and cannot afford to do a lot of the maintenance that we desperately need. Pot holes is just the obvious, for most San Diegans. Balboa Park, for example, has a lot of deferred maintenance. This could lead to major long term damage to a civic jewel.
The Council voted to put Prop H on the ballot. If approved, this could create a fund in the city, to be exclusively used for capital improvements, meaning money to build new police stations, for example. Or for that matter fix what is wrong with Balboa Park. The council is promising to do this without raising taxes. Given that Californians are allergic to taxes, when last year there was a discussion of raising taxes we were surprised.
Now this fund will not be enough, and other revenue streams will in time be needed. This is a beginning in seriously trying to get ahead of the infrastructure deficit. But there is a caveat. These funds will be exclusively dedicated to capital improvements. This is from the Independent Budget analyst:
This proposition would place unrestricted General Fund revenues in a restricted Infrastructure Fund. Funds legally restricted for other purposes are excluded from the Infrastructure Fund. Funds placed in the Infrastructure Fund would only be used for costs, including financing and personnel costs, associated with the acquisition of real property, construction, repair and maintenance of infrastructure. “Infrastructure” means streets, sidewalks, bridges, bike paths, storm water and drainage systems, public buildings and park facilities. New convention center facilities and new professional sports facilities are excluded from infrastructure. Software and technology with a useful life exceeding five years could be added to the definition of infrastructure by the City Council.
It is important to understand, this will not fund a sports stadium, or the convention center. Those are still separate. If passed it will use 2016 as the baseline and become law in 2018.
Emergency services oppose this. The reason is simple. It takes away flexibility and in the future we might need to spend those funds in police or fire services due to an emergency. Their criticism is somewhat valid, and that worry is one that the Council will have to grapple with in the future.
In the view of this publication, while we are not endorsing any proposal, the infrastructure issues in San Diego, like the rest of the country, are very serious. We are not sure if this will be enough, or the city will need to do more. We also offer the opponents view, becuase the General Fund is structured to fund programs as needed, and this will take away from flexibility. Those are the pros and cons.