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Skipping a Year of Street Repairs: Fact Check

Councilman Kevin Faulconer claimed the mayor’s budget proposal postpones a year of infrastructure fixes.


Image: TRUEStatement: “The mayor’s budget skips a year in terms of our street infrastructure repair that the council was planning on doing, delaying that bond for an entire year until 2014,” City Councilman Kevin Faulconer said in an April 16 interview on KPBS’s “Evening Edition.”

Determination: True

Analysis: The city is hundreds of millions of dollars behind on infrastructure repairs and the City Council has a five-year plan to help keep the problem from growing worse each year.

Mayor Bob Filner’s first budget complicates that five-year blueprint by providing less funding for street and facility upgrades and nixing a planned survey of city buildings.

Councilman Kevin Faulconer was among those who criticized the mayor’s budget proposal for that reason.

In an interview on KPBS last week, Faulconer claimed that the mayor’s budget effectively postpones the council’s plans for dealing with street repairs for an entire year.

He made a similar point in an interview with U-T San Diego.

We decided to delve further into Faulconer’s claim because road repairs are a top priority for both residents and elected officials.

Last March, the council approved a five-year plan to ramp up infrastructure spending and slow deterioration of city buildings and streets.

The plan included a $75 million bond to be issued in 2012 and an $80 million bond for 2013.

In most cases, the city tries to issue bonds between April and June, the fourth quarter of the city’s fiscal year.

City officials initially planned to issue an $80 million infrastructure bond this spring. That hasn’t happened. Instead, the mayor’s initial budget proposed that the city wait until early 2014 to issue the bonds.

This would allow the city to avoid a $5.6 million debt payment in the 2014 fiscal year, a savings the mayor wants to use to help close a nearly $40 million budget shortfall.

But does that really amount to skipping a year of street repairs, as Faulconer suggested?

The council did approve an additional $35 million bond in March, which will be used to build three libraries and a fire station. Of that, the city plans to use $14.9 million to resurface some city streets and repair some concrete ones.

But that spending wasn’t included in the council’s five-year infrastructure plan and is far less than what staffers suggested in a document presented to some council staffers in March.

A spokesman for Faulconer provided a draft project list that penciled in $42.6 million for roadway fixes, more than half of the total bond.

Filner’s budget calls for the city to wait until January to issue the bond. Doing so will affect the timeline for other bond issuances too, said Erin Noel, who scrutinizes infrastructure spending for the city’s independent budget analyst.

So another $255 million in additional infrastructure cash projected to be available in 2015, 2016 and 2017 are also likely to be delayed unless the mayor or council tweaks the plans or finds a way to make repairs faster.

The result is that the five-year plan becomes a six-year one.

Independent Budget Analyst Andrea Tevlin agreed.

The delay in Filner’s proposed budget amounts to months of delay when it comes to issuing the bond but it appears to set the plan back a year, budget-wise, Tevlin said.

Faulconer claimed that the mayor’s budget delayed the bond until 2014, effectively skipping a year in terms of infrastructure funding the council included in its five-year blueprint.

Because Faulconer singled out cash that the council had planned on, we decided his statement is true.

If you disagree with our determination or analysis, please express your thoughts in the comments section of this blog post. Explain your reasoning.

Lisa Halverstadt is a reporter at Voice of San Diego. Know of something she should check out? You can contact her directly at lisa.halverstadt@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0528.

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