Budget takes aim at $100K salaries

When Mayor Gavin Newsom began to look for positions to cut from the budget and eliminate The City’s projected $338 million deficit, he said he began with the “easy, low-hanging fruit” — jobs earning more than $100,000 a year.

As a result, 100 city employees earning more than $100,000are slated to lose their jobs within the mayor’s proposed budget, which still needs to be approved by the Board of Supervisors. Additionally, 90 vacant positions earning similar amounts would be eliminated, according to data from the Mayor’s Office.

Hardest hit are the Department of Public Health and the Department of Telecommunications and Information Services, which would see 63 and 14 employees laid off respectively.

Many of the proposed staffing cuts in Public Health are due to the downsizing of Laguna Honda Hospital and the planned closure of Clarendon Hall, according to a DPH official.

Other departments hit by the layoffs and positions cuts include the Human Services Agency, Department of Building Inspection and Office of the Treasurer.

The higher-salaried jobs come from general fund departments, which means they are predominately funded through taxpayer dollars, and range from registered nurses to city attorneys to mid-level managers. The layoffs and position eliminations would save The City’s general fund at least $19 million, according to information provided by the Mayor’s Office.

“We just tried to balance the cuts between middle-management, management and line staff,” Newsom said.

Including the 190 positions paying more than $100,000, Newsom’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, eliminates 1,085 positions, 450 of which are currently filled.

Newsom is not the first city official to suggest that high-wage earners be targeted to help balance The City’s budget.

In March, board President Aaron Peskin drafted an ordinance to eliminate all city positions that earn more than $150,000 per year, an ordinance that includes many department heads.

The proposed budget’s mix of managers and low-level staff was appropriate during these tight fiscal times, Peskin said.

“You don’t need bosses if there’s no one to supervise,” he said. “There’s agreement in both houses on this.”

Newsom’s proposal comes as part of his record $6.5 billion budget proposal unveiled Monday. The budget increased by almost $500 million from last year’s budget, but it also includes cuts to mental health programs and substance-abuse programs.

Eileen Hirst, president of the Municipal Executives’ Association, said the cuts will be hard to take.

“Any time there are cuts and layoffs there’s more work for fewer people,” she said.

dsmith@sfexaminer.com

Cutting from the top

The mayor proposed in his budget to eliminate 190 total positions earning more than $100,000; 100 of which are currently staffed. Among the positions eliminated:

» Attorneys

» Business analysts

» Engineers

» Managers

» Nurses

» Nursing supervisor

» Pharmacists

» Physical therapist

» Physicians

» Police captain

» Police Department commander

» Senior supervisor, juvenile probation

» Sheriff’s lieutenant

» Sheriff’s sergeant

Source: Mayor’s Proposed Budget, 2008-09

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