In his address, Faulconer emphasized the importance of fiscal responsibility and unity among city leaders to achieve neighborhood goals like infrastructure repair, environmental protection and public safety.
“I vividly remember when I was first sworn in seven years ago, the depths of the problems at City Hall were becoming more and more apparent — the debts, the lawsuits, the pension scandals, the delayed audit reports, the mismanagement of tax dollars and the lack of accountability and transparency,” he said. “In a bipartisan manner, we have eliminated the culture of ‘Spend today, save tomorrow,’ which has now given way to budgetary realism and fiscal reform.”
He said collaborative efforts by city leadership has gotten the city through tough financial chaos and civic embarrassment, creating a model for fiscal responsibility, transparency and government accountability.
“Our city is in a much stronger financial position that it has ever been before,” he said. “I’m committed to spending within our means. It’s the only way that we can ensure that our tax dollars can be invested in our neighborhoods to deliver the real results that all of us are pushing for.”
A few of those neighborhood accomplishments in the Point Loma and Ocean Beach communities over the past year included the community-driven redesign of Ocean Beach’s Veterans Plaza, completion of the first phase of the Ocean Beach Gateway Park and recent passage of legislation to protect 31 acres of Point Loma’s Famosa Slough from future development.
One improvement on the horizon for the Point Loma community is the creation of a world-class Olympic-size swimming pool and aquatic center at Liberty Station for everyone in the community to enjoy. After preserving the initial funding intended to kickstart that project, Faulconer announced the city completed a request for development proposal to bring that vision to reality.
On a citywide level, Faulconer and his City Council colleagues helped San Diego lead the charge on comprehensive immigration reform and will continue efforts toward the councilman’s proposed oversize-vehicle ordinance in the coming months.
As he moves forward in his tenure, Faulconer outlined principles he pledges to follow as he continues his efforts toward a brighter future.
“First, we must fulfill the will of the voters by implementing comprehensive pension reform at City Hall. We must make full pension payments to ensure we don’t unduly pass on the debt to our children and grandchildren,” he said. “We must protect public safety, particularly by improving police retention and recruitment, and we must not and cannot support cuts to our core neighborhood services that all of us rely on.”
The councilman said no budget is justifiable unless the city considers all reasonable and innovative ways to deliver services efficiently and effectively.
“Unfortunately, the administration is ignoring opportunities to cut government waste by stalling managed competition, which is costing taxpayers tens of millions of dollars each year that would be saved through streamlining,” he said. “Using estimates about what the city could gain through accountability and competitive bidding, we could save $20 million additionally every single year. That would reduce our budget deficit by half right now just if we were moving forward on managed competition.”
He said in the next 30 days, he will ask his fellow councilmembers to reaffirm their commitment to voter-approved managed competition.
“I believe it is central that we have a healthy and dynamic city and these principles will help ensure that,” he said. “If we follow the will of the voters, particularly on managed competition, San Diego can and will continue to lead on fiscal reform.”
He said although the city has united to resolve the front-page financial scandals of the past, the day-to-day neighborhood challenges remain. Those challenges, he said, must be met head-on through collaboration.
“Delivering the results we’ve covered tonight did not require divisive rhetoric. Partisan politics doesn’t pave streets. It doesn’t protect our ocean or dispatch our police officers or fire fighters to our homes any faster,” he said. “Collaboration and respect get things done, and it’s the path I intend to follow as long as I am your elected leader.”