Big money at stake for S.F. Muni, small-biz center

When voters head to the polls in November, a sizeable chunk of money will be in play, with measures that would sink at least $26 million a year into Muni or create a small-business assistance center that could cost about $917,000 a year.

Every ballot season, City Controller Ed Harrington, one of The City’s top financial gurus, conducts an economic analysis of each measure.

If Proposition A, a Muni reform measure, passes, about $26 million, or 40 percent of the revenue generated by the city’s parking tax, would go into the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees Muni, on top of the 40 percent it currently receives. The measure also would earmark for Muni all future revenue growth generated by changes in parking policies and parking fine amounts, which during the last five years generated about $17 million a year, Harrington said.

“To the extent that these funds are shifted to the MTA, other city spending would have to be reduced or new revenue identified,” Harrington said.

Proposition K is a nonbinding policy statement that would urge no increase to the amount of advertising in places such as bus shelters. But if it is voted into law, it could result in a financial loss for Muni, according to Harrington. “The amount of lost revenue to MTA could be more than $1 million annually” for at least the 20-year term of a new advertising contract being negotiated, he said.

Proposition I, put on the ballot by Mayor Gavin Newsom, would cost city government $750,000 in this fiscal year to establish a one-stop shop for small businesses at City Hall, known as the Small Business Assistance Center. Subsequently, itwould cost about $917,000 annually, according to Harrington.

Other measures with a price tag include Proposition G, which would require The City to contribute $1 — up to $750,000 — for every $3 dollars donated to a Golden Gate Stables fund.

Proposition H, a parking measure, carries an “an unknown but potentially significant” cost to city government, by limiting development, lowering future property tax revenue and creating congestion, likely to increase the costs of operating Muni, according to Harrington.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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