The following is a prepared testimony urging the San Diego City Council to reject recommendation that no mid-year revision be made to the fiscal year 2021 budget. The testimony was delivered to San Diego City Council by ACLU-SDIC Policy Associate Chelsey Birgisdóttir on February 22, 2021.

Good afternoon Council President Campbell and Councilmembers, 

My name is Chelsey Birgisdottir. I am a policy associate with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. 

  • We are here today to urge you to reject the recommendation that no mid-year revision be made to the fiscal year 2021 budget. 
  • Instead, we urge you to adhere to the appropriations ordinance and proceed with a mid-year revision to the FY 2021 police budget. 

The City of San Diego has a responsibility to be a good steward of public funds. Our current $86 million budget deficit has been made worse by 10 years of overspending on the police budget. This mid-year budget revision is an opportunity to right the course.   

The appropriations ordinance works to prevent excessive spending by requiring the San Diego Police Department and the Mayor’s Office to report spending on overtime and neighborhood policing. This ordinance was passed because the city acknowledged SDPD’s spending is out of control. 

A KPBS review of city budgets and financial reports found that SDPD exceeded its overtime budget in each of the past 10 fiscal years…a decade of wasteful spending that cost taxpayers $61 million…more than 70 percent of today’s $86 million budget deficit.

The problem of SDPD routinely blowing past their overtime budget has been raised in multiple reports from the City's Office of the Independent Budget Analyst. The worst instance of overspending occurred in FY 2015, when SDPD spent more than twice their $11 million overtime budget.

The city council must honor its fiscal responsibility to the people of San Diego and curb excessive police spending. 

The ACLU urges you to reject the recommendation before you and proceed with the mid-year revisions to the police budget for fiscal year 2021.

Thank you for your time and careful consideration.