Is the famous budget 'add-back' process in jeopardy? 

Every year, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee has traditionally gone through what is called the “add-back” process.

The process is when the supervisors cut from the mayor’s proposed city and county  budget submission a pile of money, sometimes in the tens of millions of dollars, and then reallocate it to needs they see fit in their districts, usually a bunch of community nonprofits.

The practice came under criticism in a grand jury report last year.

With the more moderate Supervisor Carmen Chu heading the budget committee, concerns were being raised that she might do away with the practice. But so far, it doesn’t sound like she has a plan to do that, so much as there is talk about improving the budget process.

Chu said, “it’s too early to tell what the budget will look like.” And she went on to say the committee will likely being making cuts and come up with savings as it reviews the mayor’s budget and its “going to be up to the committee and board on how we reallocate them.”

A July 2009 grand jury report “Nonprofits: The good, the bad, the ugly”  recommended doing away with the add-back process altogether.

Among the report’s findings, “Targeted addbacks impede the ability of city departments to hold nonprofit contractors accountable for poor performance.”

Supervisor David Campos is meeting with nonprofit leaders and city leaders to support not doing away with the add-back process.

“I haven’t heard that they’re doing that necessarily,” Campos told The San Francisco Examiner Friday afternoon. “From my perspective the add-back process has served a purpose. Sometimes things fall through the cracks Sometimes an agency chooses not to fund certain programs that should be funded. The add-back process provides an opportunity for the Board of Supervisors and the community to address those issues.”

When asked about the grand jury finding, Campos replied: “Is it a perfect process? It’s not a perfect process. It’s something that makes the process be more responsive to the needs of The City.”

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