SF budget plan cuts 993 jobs, finds hidden funds


Mayor Gavin Newsom proposed "creative" revenue strategies in next year's city budget. Photo by Monica Jensen/SF Public Press.

Significant cuts to payroll and services will help close San Francisco’s estimated $483 million budget deficit, Mayor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.

Newsom rolled out next year’s $6.48 billion budget, emphasizing use of “creative new revenue” to increase workforce development, maintain public safety and preserve necessary social services without raising taxes.

“I know some folks just prefer tax increases,” Newsom said. “I don’t. I think they should be on the table in the absence of an alternative, and I think we provided ample alternatives.”

By cutting 993 filled and unfilled jobs and reducing some salaries, the city will save $64.2 million, he said. With 25,870 workers, total full-time employment will be the lowest it has been in more than 10 years. “In the last decade, whatever we’ve done, we’re back to where we were in 1998,” he said.

The city will pick up additional revenue by closing tax loopholes such as from online hotel booking companies. Currently, because these companies buy up many rooms cheaply and sell them at more expensive rates, the companies keep some of the money guests pay in hotel tax. Closing this loophole so that all hotel tax goes to the city will bring $12 million a year.

“This is not a new tax,” Newsom said. “People are already paying this tax, but we’re not collecting it.”

Other savings will come from service cuts. The Office of Economic and Workforce Development will experience a cut of 34 percent, or approximately $8.5 million. The Recreation and Parks Department’s budget will fall 42 percent, from $220 million to $127 million.

The budget of the Department of Children, Youth and Their Families will shrink from $136.7 million to $109.1 million — a 20 percent cut. Much of this comes from Children’s Baseline, a youth recreation service. That program’s budget will decrease by 40 percent, or $20.3 million of the total $27.5 million cut from the department.

Other programs will experience smaller budget changes, especially those in public safety. No police or firefighters will be laid off, although Newsom said that wage concessions from firefighters will save $7.5 million.

There will be no cuts to arts and culture, and the city will get eight new branch libraries. Newsom also said domestic violence and women’s programs will not have their budgets cut.

Newsom’s budget also pinpointed areas for greater investment, such as workforce development, a modernized crime lab and the creation of about 4,000 new supportive housing units.

Newsom said he expects 10 pending public development projects — including Treasure Island, the mid-Market Street corridor and the Central Subway — will create thousands of new jobs.

The budget will now go to the Board of Supervisors, which will likely try to reinstate many cut programs in a process called “add-backs.” To do this, they will have to find other programs to cut or new ways to generate revenue.

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