With San Francisco's technology-fueled economy having boosted tax revenue, Mayor Ed Lee's $8.6 billion budget proposal being unveiled this morning increases city spending by hundreds of millions of dollars, adds 828 government workers to the payroll and invests nearly $100 million in below-market-rate housing development during the next two years.
The budget proposal comes as San Francisco has a growing income inequality gap, soaring rents and increasing evictions, ongoing problems with pedestrian fatalities and more than 6,000 homeless adults for more than a decade. The mayor's investment in these issues is expected to take center stage as the spending plan undergoes a review by the Board of Supervisors in the coming weeks.
"We are making strategic investments to grow our economy, create jobs and make sure that our city remains affordable for low- and middle-income families," Lee said of his budget proposal.
He said it "protects social services for people who need them most, is affordable over the long term, increases city services including public safety and supports our continued economic recovery. We are making historic investments in housing, transportation, and education."
Lee has responded to what many call a housing crisis by trying to speed up housing construction. As a result of the voter-approved 2012 Housing Trust Fund, the mayor's budget includes investing $44.4 million in below-market-rate housing during the next two fiscal years. Lee, who has called for the construction of 30,000 housing units by 2020, is also proposing to issue debt backed by the future trust fund increases to generate an additional $50 million in the same time frame.
Funding for eviction prevention and limited rental subsidies will continue under the budget plan. The annual funding of $160 million for homeless services will be increased to cover programs such as the Star Community Home single-mother shelter, and $750,000 would be set aside for two projects to house homeless veterans.
The current 27,669 city workforce is proposed to increase to 28,497 with nearly 200 new positions for Muni and 150 for the Public Health Department, among additional street cleaners, arborists, park and patrol officers, police officers and firefighters.
The budget also includes increased costs for the 3 percent wage increases negotiated for city workers like nurses, covered by 27 contracts. Each percentage increase equates to $16 million in increases for worker salaries in city departments that don't generate their own revenue, such as the Port. It also contains a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase for nonprofits, which results in a $6.8 million increase.
The mayor has abandoned earlier plans to place a vehicle license fee increase on the November ballot, instead using existing tax streams to set aside $40 million for services such as street repaving and pedestrian safety projects. Separate from the budget proposal, he is supporting a $500 million transportation bond for the November ballot that is backed by property taxes but would not increase them. Muni service is expected to increase by 10 percent in the next two years.