Daly City wrestles with making budget cuts 

With vacant storefronts, less money from property taxes in the foreclosure capital of San Mateo County, and an eroding state budget, Daly City officials are saying nothing is protected from the local budget chopping block.

City Council members have been holding study sessions to figure out their priorities and what kind of blows they are looking at this year, but they have not made any decisions to soften an estimated $5 million hole in a $72 million budget.

The county assessor also calculated that Daly City’s property taxes would drop by $6 million in 2009 — the most of any other city in the county, according to assessor documents.

“I don’t know what exactly we’re going to do,” Councilman David Canepa said. “We’ll probably be looking at those processes in May or June ... I don’t have a crystal ball.”

And for months, the city has been holding public meetings, taking surveys and explaining how the budget works. It just hasn’t figured out what’s going to get hacked first.

Councilman Sal Torres — who was mayor last year when the council made cuts to after-school programs, had city workers take unpaid furlough days and increased fees for residents — said city services will likely be the first to go.

According to city documents, Police and Fire department services account for 57 percent of the city’s general fund expenditures.

But those departments are also favored the most by more than 1,300 people who filled out a survey stating where their priorities rest.

“They thought public safety and job creation were the most important,” Torres said. “We’re in the same boat.”

Canepa said he wants to see Daly City start securing more stimulus funding and get better at marketing its retail spaces, noting that some spots have been vacant for more than a year.

“Daly City is a great place to do business because we’re convenient,” Canepa said.

The council will have to vote on the budget before July 1.

Where the money goes

A breakdown of Daly City’s $72 million operating budget:

Police Department: $26.58 million
Fire Department: $14.41 million
Parks and Recreation: $8.42 million
General government: $7.10 million
Public Works: $5.61 million
Library: $3.67 million
Economic and Community Development: $3.57 million
Other expenses: $2.47 million

Source: Daly City

kkelkar@sfexaminer.com

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Kamala Kelkar

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