$17M SFMTA budget gap may hit parkers in pocket 

click to enlarge Click on the image to see why the SFMTA's budget fell short.
  • Click on the image to see why the SFMTA's budget fell short.

Motorists beware — enforcement officers will be cracking down on parking scofflaws to help make up a new $17 million deficit at San Francisco’s transportation agency.

Although the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni and enforces parking policies, approved a balanced two-year budget in April, the plan had to be readjusted because expected labor savings did not materialize. Instead of benefiting from $14 million in labor concessions, as projected, the SFMTA will actually spend an extra $3 million on salaries, a swing of $17 million.

The new deficit arose after the SFMTA complied with the May 1 deadline to submit its budget to City Hall. The agency had projected saving about $7 million annually in labor costs even though contract negotiations with unions hadn’t been completed. Yet working alongside Mayor Ed Lee in the negotiations, the agency was not able to meet those goals.

To make up the difference, the agency must make some budget revisions and increase its focus on parking enforcement, according to revised plans discussed Friday. Ed Reiskin, SFMTA director of transportation, said the improving local economy means the agency will be able to project $5.92 million more in allocations from The City over the next two years.

The agency is looking at another $4 million to be netted through increased funds from the agency’s taxi medallion sales program as well as citation revenue from additional enforcement on illegal limousine and town car services.

For drivers in The City, though, the main component that will affect them is the agency’s plan to hire more enforcement officers to crack down on parking violators. Such added enforcement is expected to net an extra $6.5 million in citation revenue and operational efficiencies over the next two years.

Reiskin said the move isn’t about targeting motorists to balance the SFMTA budget, a frequent criticism leveled at the agency.

“There is always going to be a concern about that,” said Reiskin. “But everybody benefits, including motorists, when we enforce the laws that we have. We’re not anticipating these revenues from more meters or extending meter hours — it’s enforcing the rules we have.”

Tony Kelly, spokesman for a neighborhood group opposed to more parking meters, said the agency’s new budget proposal indicates that it is using parking-management tools to increase revenue, and not to actually manage parking.

Reiskin noted that a $46 million program to enhance maintenance service on Muni’s vehicles will not be affected by the new shortfall.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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Will Reisman

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