San Francisco’s budget challenges long way from finished 

Mayor Ed Lee closed a $300 million deficit Wednesday in his proposed $6.83 billion city budget, but funding challenges remain, including passage of a November streets bond, influential labor unions agreeing to give up $23 million in raises, and concerns over cuts to social services.

The funding shortfall for the fiscal year beginning July 1 was closed with cuts to services, a proposal to contract out security at two hospitals, no cost-of-living increases for city contracts, and unexpected revenues as a result of an improved local economy. The City’s workforce would increase by 164 positions for a total of 26,272 jobs.

During Lee’s half-hour budget presentation inside the Board of Supervisors chambers at City Hall — a venue former Mayor Gavin Newsom avoided like the plague — he emphasized that his proposal was one of collaboration that keeps the “very critical level of social services intact.”

“We are not expanding programs. We are scaling back and fighting to keep services stable,” he said.

Still, advocates of social programs are fighting to restore millions of dollars of cuts to services like supportive housing, mental health services, substance abuse and violence prevention.

“We do have a long ways to go,” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the San Francisco Coalition on Homelessness.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said that in addition to “significant cuts” to social services in Lee’s budget, there were also cuts to  basic city services around maintenance of trees and street cleaning.

“We’re going to be scouring the entire budget to make sure that there is shared sacrifice and that we are balancing the deficit across all services,” Chiu said.

Lee, who said “it’s not been easy” to close the shortfall, called on firefighters, police officers and nurses to give up their combined $23 million in raises.” These labor groups remain in talks with The City about agreeing to give up the pay bumps.

“We acknowledge that it’s a great sacrifice,” Lee said, noting that it has been asked of them “over and over again.”

He also used the moment to call for support of his proposed $248 million November streets bond that would allow The City to invest an additional $53 million next fiscal year on repaving streets.

“We will get these streets repaved,” Lee said.

The Board of Supervisors will spend the next month reviewing the budget proposal, when it can make changes before voting to adopt it.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

 

Budget highlights

  • $6.83 billion: Amount of Mayor Ed Lee’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2011-12 — an increase of $266M compared to FY2010-11
  • 26,272: Number of city positions — an increase of 164 jobs
  • $23 million: Amount in raises the budget assumes police officers, firefighters and nurses give up
  • $306 million: Deficit amount closed

Source: Mayor’s Office

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