City Hall Watch: Budget, funding for court OK’d

The City’s proposed $6.5 billion budget was approved Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors, along with nearly $500,000 in funding for Mayor Gavin Newsom’s ambitious new court designed to bring help to those arrested in the crime-plagued Tenderloin.

Newsom submitted his proposed budget for Board of Supervisors review after closing a $338 million projected deficit in June. The board’s budget committee made a number of changes to the budget by the time it arrived before the full board for a vote Tuesday.

No major budget changes were made by the board Tuesday. A second and final vote on the budget will be taken next week.

An effort to reject the use of $5 million in public campaign-finance funds was defeated.

Supervisor Chris Daly, Newsom’s chief critic on the board, suggested a number of possible cuts to the budget, but never made a motion for a vote and said he offered these ideas for “rumination.”

The proposals ranged from firing highly paid managers to the elimination of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, which Daly called “a political extension of the Mayor’s Office,” the usefulness of which was replaced by the 311 call center.

The budget was approved in a 10-1 vote, with Daly in opposition.

In a separate vote, the board voted 7-3 to approve spending $500,000 in startup money for Newsom’s proposed community court. The board had previously rejected the funding.

As proposed, the Community Justice Center would target offenders in downtown areas charged with misdemeanors and nonviolent felonies, including such offenses as disorderly conduct, drug use and theft. Those charged would have the choice of receiving social services or facing the usual legal consequences.

Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, chair of theboard’s budget committee, said at the start of the budget deliberations that “we did everything we could to put back as much as we possibly could, a tremendous amount,” and called the budget a “worthy product.”

It was expected that the Board of Supervisors would make about $5 million in cuts to offset the cost of not privatizing security guards at San Francisco General Hospital and other medical clinics. That money would come out of The City’s operating budget reserve, Elsbernd said, putting it at a “ridiculously low, not safe” amount of about $5.1 million.

Newsom’s spokesman Nathan Ballard said, “We’re pleased with this budget. We have a sensible budget that addresses The City’s most pressing needs during difficult fiscal times.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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