After cutting about $10 million from Mayor Ed Lee’s $8.6 billion budget proposal during the past two weeks, the Board of Supervisors budget committee spent hours Wednesday debating how to make deeper cuts to fund the tens of millions of dollars in requests for services such as food for seniors, eviction legal defense and larger cost-of-living increases for nonprofit workers.
Highlighting San Francisco’s growing income inequality and tenant displacement amid soaring rents, Supervisor John Avalos proposed Wednesday a number of politically sensitive cuts -- reducing street repaving by about $20 million during the next two years, delaying police academy classes by about one month for about $2.4 million in savings and eliminating multiple city manager positions.
“We all know about our affordability crisis in San Francisco,” Avalos said. “There are enormous asks that we have received especially around housing and employment services. We’ve also had big requests around nutrition and food security amounting to $10 million.”
He noted that there are “various other large-ticket items that are coming our way from across The City that people have a great expectation that we fulfill.”
At one point, funding requests totaled about $72 million for a variety of needs, including a 1.5 percent wage increase for nonprofit workers, which would cost $6.8 million.
That wish-list was reduced to $52 million. Avalos said the expectation is being able to fund about $22 million.
In the past two weeks, the board’s Budget and Finance Committee, with the assistance of budget analyst Harvey Rose, made about $10 million of reductions to city departments’ proposed budgets, scrutinizing everything from staff positions to purchases of office chairs.
That left the committee debating how to come up with at least another $10 million.
One idea, which is supported by Avalos, is to scale back the road resurfacing funding by $20 million during next two years. Committee Chair Supervisor Mark Farrell said he is opposed to that the idea.
“Repairing our roads is one of the most critical things that we are doing as a city government,” Farrell said. “I hear it day in and day out from our residents about the condition of our roads.”
The reduction would mean that The City would be on the road toward a pavement condition index score of 68 and not 70. It is currently 66.
In previous years, the committee has deliberated late into the night and also finished up the next day.
“We would like to do as much as possible today, if not finish,” Farrell said Wednesday.
Avalos said that “Mark is being optimistic about tonight. I was thinking tomorrow.”