Newsom, supes at odds over budget surplus 

Mayor Gavin Newsom accused members of the Board of Supervisors on Wednesday of playing politics with The City’s financial health by submitting more than $40 million of new funding requests this year that would eat up surplus tax money needed to help balance next year’s budget.

Although city budget officials have predicted that $126.6 million will be left over from this year’s budget, due to higher-than-projected revenues, the Mayor’s office assumed the money would be rolled over into the budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1.

Due to a structural deficit in The City’s spending, the budget for fiscal year 2007-08 — even with the added $126.6 million — would need $25.4 million in cuts in order to be balanced.

Since the mayor is responsible for submitting a balanced budget in June, Newsom said some supervisors are trying to make his job more difficult during this election year by spending the surplus.

In March, Supervisor Chris Daly submitted legislation that would require $28 million of this year’s surplus be allocated to affordable housing purposes. The bulk of the money, $20 million, would be for the acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing for families, seniors and persons with disabilities.

On Tuesday, Daly also announced plans for two other supplemental requests — one for $10 million focused on youth and families and another for $5.6 million for seniors with disabilities. Daly expects to introduce the requests at Tuesday’s board meeting.

Additionally, Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin has submitted his own supplemental budget request that could result in The City spending $5.3 million in the next fiscal year to pay for the salaries of added employees to The City’s Public Works and Recreation and Park departments.

In anticipation of the deficit, city departments were originally asked to submit budgets that included a 3 percent cut. Earlier this month, Newsom asked department heads to suggest ways to trim another 3 percent, partially in response to a request in March by Daly.

"It will become a war of words," Newsom said Thursday of choosing to use the supplemental against nextyear’s deficit as opposed to supporting the new spending mearures. "They’ll say, ‘How dare you not support senior services, children’s services and more custodians and gardeners in our parks and more affordable housing for our seniors and homeless?’"

Last year, San Francisco also faced a budget deficit for the coming year, as well as a surplus of $137 million. Newsom and the Board of Supervisors submitted proposals for the surplus totaling more than $180 million. In the end, $47 million from the surplus was allocated for street resurfacing work, parks and recreation centers and affordable-housing projects.

Newsom said this year is different from last year, because The City is also preparing itself for wage increases for police and firefighters. The mayor also said that supplemental requests came in earlier last year and were done in a more collaborative process with his budget office.

"I don’t know what Gavin Newsom is talking about when he accuses me of playing politics." Daly said. "The supplemental appropriation will deliver hundreds of housing units that are needed. I put the needs of everyday San Franciscans over petty politics."

On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee unanimously approved Daly’s allocation request, which will now be forwarded to the full board for a vote on Tuesday. Supporters of the supplemental included Supervisor Bevan Dufty, who is considered one of Newsom’s allies on the board.

"Moving now hems him [Newsom] in somewhat," Dufty said. "But you know what, he is just as responsible as Chris [Daly] is to try and work together. And I am just at a point where no one is all right, no one is all wrong in this situation." Dufty added, "We should start laying more bricks and stop throwing them."

Peskin and other members of the Board of Supervisors, including Dufty, accuse the mayor of overreacting to this year’s supplemental requests, in order to appear fiscally prudent during an election year.

Peskin said the requests were not about politics, but about delivering on "the promise of government."

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