Bright spots in dim budget

Although Mayor Gavin Newsom is working to reduce The City’s projected $338 million general fund shortfall, San Francisco will spend more money next year to add jobs at Muni and the airport.

In order to approve a budget for The City and county for the next fiscal year, Newsom needs to submit a balanced budget for all departments by June 1. The mayor is also required to submit a partial budget by May 1 that includes San Francisco’s “enterprise” departments — such as the airport and the Port of San Francisco — which generate their own revenue.

The remaining departments are supported through The City’s general fund, which generates revenue through taxes and fees, to pay for such city services as police, fire and public health care.

Although state funding cuts as well as increased city contract costs are contributing to a projected $338 million general fund budget deficit, it is illegal for enterprise departments to transfer money into the general fund, Newsom’s budget director, Nani Coloretti, said.

Growth in the enterprise departments has resulted in an 8 percent spending increase of $168 million, according to the mayor’s proposed budget for next fiscal year. Last year’s enterprise budget saw a smaller increase, of 1 percent, according to city documents.

Much of next year’s enterprise department growth is within the San Francisco International Airport and the Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni, as both departments expand to try and meet expectations.

“We hope they’ll see more visitors coming to San Francisco,” Coloretti said. “And we hope they’ll see improved services at Muni,” she added.

The airport is growing in size with the number of domestic and international travelers coming through SFO climbing, SFO spokesman Mike McCarron said. Tourism is the No. 1 industry in The City, and more airline carriers are coming as well, after a year in which four new airlines set up shop at the airport. McCarron said Emirates, Kingfisher and Jet Airways are also slated to begin service out of SFO.

The MTA budget includes hiring more street supervisors, but also hiking parking citations, according to department spokesman Judson True.

The tougher work is ahead, according to Coloretti. The remaining city departments are funded by the general fund coffers, which are shrunken by reductions in state funding and mandatory spending levels, called set-asides, for purposes such as maintaining firehouse funding, library spending and money for children’s services.

dsmith@examiner.com

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