Mayor Ed Lee is counting on police, firefighters and nurses to give up their total $23 million worth of raises next year to help close The City’s budget deficit.
When Lee unveils his budget proposal Wednesday, there will be no funding for these pay bumps, even though labor unions have yet to agree to give them up.
Nonetheless, Lee said he expects a “pretty smooth budget” process as his proposal for the fiscal year beginning July 1 works its way through the Board of Supervisors, which can make changes before adopting it.
In the past, political battles between the board and Lee’s predecessor, Gavin Newsom, occurred each year about spending priorities.
Several of Newsom’s controversial budget proposals, which were rejected by a more left-leaning board, are not being revisited by Lee, such as contracting out city services like janitors or jail health workers.
Nor is the proposal to allow people to bypass a condo conversion lottery by paying a fee part of the budget proposal.
Debate over funding for nonprofits, which provide an array of services in contracts with city departments, have also been largely worked out in advance, Lee said.
Lee had to close a deficit of $283.1 million, according to The City’s five-year budget report. But he said the budget will be balanced without “sizeable layoffs.”
The mayor’s lack of funding for the pay raises won’t come as a surprise. Lee had met with labor leaders two weeks ago and said he made his position clear that The City needed to save money.
The raises are promised in the labor contracts and employees would have to agree to give them up. If they don’t, layoffs would be expected.
The firefighters union has a meeting to discuss the raises Thursday with city officials. The Police Officers Association will continue talking with members about what to do for at least the next week and a half.
Fire union head Tom O’Connor wasn’t making any promises Friday about forgoing the $9 million pay bump his members are set to receive.
He said it’s “frustrating” when The City keeps promising the pay but then says “next year you’re going to get it, but next year never comes around.”
And he said there is the “added challenge that we are giving up more than anyone with the pensions.”
Lee has proposed a November ballot measure with the support of labor that would require city workers to contribute more into their pensions.
Public safety workers could see their pension contribution rates increase from 7.5 percent of their paychecks up to 13.5 percent.
But O’Connor was optimistic that something would be worked out.
“We’ve never played stubborn politics with The City. We’ll figure out something. We always do.”
Difficult budgets will persist for years
$6.56B: Current FY2010-11 budget
$2.96B: General fund budget
$3.59B: Other spending
Budget deficits projected during the next five years:
Source: City Controller’s Office