California's 'trigger cuts' imperil San Francisco budget 

click to enlarge San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee - EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • Examiner file photo
  • San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

San Francisco’s deficit would have been a lot worse if Mayor Ed Lee had not been able to come up with a pension cost-cutting measure this November, but he still faces a challenging balancing act.

Had Proposition C not passed, the $262.7 million budget deficit projection would have been $40 million worse, and the $375.3 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2013-14 would have been $60 million worse, according to the Mayor’s Office. Those sums are what the pension measure is saving The City.

The pension measure crafted by Lee with labor leaders relieved some of the pressure the mayor otherwise would have faced by having to cut deeper into city departments’ budgets.

This bit of good news is being met with some bad news this week with the state’s so-called “trigger cuts.” These cuts could worsen the deficit projections, but their impact remains unclear.

“The Mayor’s Office is working with departments to estimate the fiscal impact to San Francisco’s budget,” Lee spokeswoman Christine Falvey said.

Before the trigger cuts, Lee had asked city department heads to cut their budgets by 5 percent for each of the next two fiscal years, with a 2½ percent contingency cut over both years.  

Falvey said in some cases, state funding cuts could be plugged using local dollars.

Lee is also looking to generate savings in his negotiations on 27 labor union contracts that expire this fiscal year.

“The mayor is hopeful that our labor partners will come to the table to work with us to find ways to prevent cuts to programs and services that our residents rely on, and improve the long-term fiscal outlook for The City,” Falvey said.

The mayor must submit by June 1 a balanced city budget to the Board of Supervisors for review and adoption.

SF’s budget picture

$263M Budget deficit for fiscal year 2012-13
$375M Budget deficit for FY 2013-14
$40M Amount Prop. C reduced city pension costs in FY 2012-13
$60M Amount Prop. C reduced city pension costs in FY 2013-14
5% What department heads must cut for FY 2012-13
27 Labor union contracts up for negotiations

Source: Mayor’s Office

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