Supervisors move to take budget process to people 

The budget woes of The City are coming to a neighborhood near you as the Board of Supervisors prepares to take a new approach.

While San Francisco moves to close a $515 million deficit — with service cuts and layoffs inevitable — supervisors plan to hold town hall meetings and official budget committee hearings at various locations in The City.

The novel approach is expected to engage more residents in the budget process and inform them about what’s at stake as The City moves to close the deficit.

On Wednesday, the board’s Budget and Finance Committee will vote on legislation to authorize two off-site official committee hearings. One would occur April 14  at 4 p.m. at Horace Mann Middle School, which is located in the Mission district. Another would take place April 21 at 4 p.m.

Supervisor John Avalos, who chairs the committee, said he has decided to “take the budget on the road.”

“We want people to really understand what’s at stake in terms of city services and what they can expect, the decision we have to make and how they are going to affect their day-to-day lives,” he said.

The first of the meetings is expected to include hearings on Muni cuts and how the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency plans to spend state funding, and the budget of the Recreation and Park Department.

An off-site meeting comes at a cost of $2,500, which includes broadcasting expenses. The cost is worth it, according to Avalos and other committee members.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who sits on the committee, said the “gravity of the budget” justifies having deliberations not just done “in the bowels of City Hall.”

A town hall meeting about the budget is scheduled for April 7 in Chinatown.

Board of Supervisors President David Chiu said the off-site meetings are something he had discussed with Avalos.

“We’ve heard over the years that San Franciscans want to have more say in the budget process,” Chiu said. “We want to bring city government out to the neighborhoods at a time and place where families and more San Francisco residents can provide us with feedback.”

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