Mark Farrell zeroes in on San Francisco debt 

The San Francisco budget has its share of problems, and District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell is shining some light on one of them: debt.

More specifically, he is looking at what is known as certificates of participation, which is when San Francisco borrows money backed by specific real estate holdings simply with a vote by the Board of Supervisors.

“We have over $1.3 billion in non-voter approved debt on our books right now,” Farrell said. “What really concerns me is the fact that we have over $100 million on our books where voters have rejected bond measures but we go ahead and issue the debt anyway or where we fund routine maintenance operations.”

That work includes paving city streets and filling potholes.

Farrell plans to call for a hearing on the debt during Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting. With a background in finance and business, Farrell has made it a goal to do what he can to bring The City’s house into financial order.

“It’s been bad public policy on how it’s been used in the past. It’s costing us millions [of dollars] a year in interest payments. We need to have a clear transparent dialogue with the public about what we’re doing.”

Farrell said the borrowing is “masking the true cost of our city government” and the practice is “horrible financial planning.”

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