It wasn’t with unanimous support, but legislation that would have The City spend $150,000 in emergency relief for three countries rocked by natural disasters – earthquakes, typhoons, tsunamis, mudslides – was approved Wednesday by the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee. The full board will vote Tuesday whether to authorize the expense. The money would be split equally in three ways for the people of the Philippines, Samoa and Indonesia, countries hit hard by a “string of disasters.”
The committee voted 2-1 to forward the legislation to the full board for approval. Carmen Chu voted in opposition.
“I’m very uncomfortable with taking money from our general fund reserve,” Chu said. “I’d rather focus some of our efforts locally here and unfortunately I will not be supporting this one.”
The money would come out of the City’s operating budget’s reserve fund, which has about $20 million. And The City’s own budget is ailing: The City is laying off workers, facing mid-year cuts and projecting a deficit of about $400 million next fiscal year that begins July 1.
Supervisors John Avalos and Ross Mirkarimi supported it. The committee also voted 3-0 to put the $150,000 on reserve pending a specific plan on how the money would be spent to help those countries, that would be brought to the committee soon if the full board approves the legislation.
Supervisor Chris Daly, who introduced the legislation, acknowledged the emergency relief proposal raises “questions about whether it is appropriate” for the city to “be engaging in this time of provision of relief to others.” But he said “San Francisco has a tradition of reaching out and helping those in need around the world while we reach out to our own here in San Francisco.”
Supervisor Jon Avalos, committee chair, said, “Given that this is difficult time for the city, it is a difficult decision. Personally, I think it is the right decision to make.”