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Opponents Question Legality of Financial Savings Estimates

They were going to file lawsuits over Proposition D anyway,
Mayor’s Office says.

Two potential legal challengers to the city of San Diego’s official savings estimate for its financial reform ballot measure known as Proposition D emerged Tuesday.

The fiscal analysis released Monday is based on the city saving $626,000 to $85.5 million annually from 10 reforms that must occur before the city temporarily increases its sales tax a half-cent.

April Boling, a member of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association executive committee and an opponent of the measure, said the savings estimate goes beyond the reform mandates.

For example, she said, the ballot measure only states the city must complete a process to allow for outsourcing, not compete out any services. But the analysis developed by city Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone includes $27 million as the high-end savings from completing that reform.

“There needs to be a legal challenge to this fiscal impact statement, frankly,” Boling said. “For [Goldstone] to say that this is the fiscal impact from Prop. D is just false.”

Boling added she was looking into hiring an attorney.

Former City Attorney Mike Aguirre, also a ballot measure opponent, sent a letter to the city requesting changes to the savings estimate.

“They are now on notice that the validity of the election will be in doubt for constitutional reasons,” Aguirre said in an interview.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith declined to answer questions about opponents’ arguments.

“If a lawsuit is filed, our office will be responsible for defending the document prepared by the Mayor’s Office,” Goldsmith said. “For that reason, we cannot critique it after the fact.”

Goldstone, who wrote the fiscal analysis, agreed that the high-end of savings went beyond what the ballot measure required. That’s why he said he included a range of savings.

Goldstone said he believed ballot measure opponents would file suit over the savings estimate no matter what it said. If he didn’t use any numbers, Goldstone said, he would have been accused of not being specific enough. If he used more precise figures, he would have been accused of being overly optimistic.

“It’s a no-win situation in that respect,” Goldstone said. “Those who are going to challenge it are going to. We’ll defend it and the courts will decide.”

State law gives opponents 10 days to challenge the analysis in court.

— LIAM DILLON

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