Friday, Nov. 20, 2009 | A private task force of prominent local business leaders formed by San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders is recommending the city file for bankruptcy unless it undergoes a series of urgent and drastic fiscal reforms, according to a draft of the group’s report.
The draft, obtained by voiceofsandiego.org, lays out 11 recommendations that include slashing employee expenditures, reducing and outsourcing city services and gaining voter approval for dramatic staff reductions. The task force also advocates tax increases after expenses are cut. Should the city fail to implement all these solutions, it should consider municipal bankruptcy, the document states.
“The City must change the way it does business,” the draft says. “Stop the half truths, unfunded mandates and budgetary gimmicks. We can no longer promise what we cannot afford. The task force herein recommends several near term solutions but we must stay focused on the bigger problem; the practice of making promises that we do not properly fund or pay for — or history will likely repeat itself.”
Sanders created the fiscal task force in the summer as part of an effort to recruit business and community leaders to promote his wide-ranging agenda in the final three years of his term. The 12-member task force includes retired ship builder Dick Vortmann, former City Councilwoman Barbara Warden and restaurateur Dan Shea. It has been meeting four hours a week for the last four months.
The group’s recommendations resemble many of the same solutions that Sanders had promoted during his two mayoral campaigns, but which have not been implemented. It adds another voice to the chorus predicting doomsday scenarios about the city’s long-term financial heath — a chorus that once included Sanders. It says in essence that the city’s finances are broken, patched together with cosmetic Band-Aids and require urgent and significant actions.
The task force’s recommendations include a massive reform or elimination of retiree health care benefits and the implementation of the city’s long-stalled outsourcing efforts. After the realization of those and other cost-cutting measures, the draft states the city should seek new revenues through storm water and trash collection fees.