A $2 million reprieve from fees owed to The City would give City College of San Francisco enough money to save nearly 300 classes, according to members of the Board of Trustees.
Elected officials from City College have asked the Board of Supervisors to consider a one-year pardon for certain types of payments in order to alleviate painful cuts to programs, classes and limit enrollment.
“A one-year break would help the students of San Francisco,” said Board of Trustees President John Rizzo. “It’s not permanent, we just want a break to help us get over this hump and keep as many classes, buildings and facilities open.”
City College is facing a $23 million budget deficit. Rizzo said by allowing the college to hold on to the $2 million in fees, it could save about 300 classes and allow thousands of students to attend school. City officials, however, said they are facing a budget crisis of their own to the tune of a $300 million deficit. They also worry that if they allow this one-time savings to go through, more requests will be on the way.
“If we were to provide this waiver for City College, why would that be different from the San Francisco Unified School District?” said Supervisor Carmen Chu, chair of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee. “Why stop at City College, why not offer it to another entity?”
Chu said this is the first time she has heard of this kind of request. While she said she understands the need, Chu noted The City is cutting social services and considering pension reforms.
“It’s difficult to consider,” Chu said of the request. “It would impact The City’s general fund.”
Among the requests, City College is asking for a reprieve of $1.3 million for electricity the college uses. The remaining $700,000 includes fees for Board of Trustees elections, sale of bonds and rent to the Recreation and Park Department.
Chu said that an estimated $500,000 of the requested $1.3 million reprieve in payment for electricity is actually a fee that is owed to an outside agency and not a cost The City could cover.
“If we were to forgive that part, we’d have to foot the bill,” Chu said.
Rizzo, though, said the college provides $60 million in financial aid and is one of San Francisco’s largest employers.
“We’re an important institution in this city,” he said.
Budgets for the college and The City are due by June 30.
City College of San Francisco is seeking a reprieve from certain fees owed to The City:
$1.3 million: Amount for electricity bills
$700,000: Amount for elections, facilities use
$23 million: Total deficit for City College
$300 million: Projected deficit for San Francisco
Source: City College of San Francisco, City of San Francisco