Key funding request may wait

Budget and Finance decides $2.5M mayor asked for to combat violence not a priority

Mayor Gavin Newsom’s request for $2.5 million in anti-violence funding will likely be put on hold after a Board of Supervisors committee said Wednesday that there is no urgency for the additional money.

The board’s Budget and Finance Committee approved the request Wednesday with the stipulation that the money be put on reserve. The proposal comes before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

Newsom’s request for funding comes as The City is facing its third year of unprecedented homicide rates, with 73 killings so far this year after a record-setting high of 96 homicides last year.

Siding with the recommendation of the budget analyst’s report, the committee agreed it was too early in the fiscal year to simply release the money.

The report advised the committee to put the money, which would come from The City’s operating budget reserve, on reserve until it becomes clear that the relevant city departments are in need of the funding.

The Police Department requested $2.1 million, the Adult Probation Department $290,000, the Juvenile Probation Department $66,000 and the Sheriff’s Department $60,000.

If approved by the board, these departments could later receive the money with an approval by the budget committee.

“I wanted to ensure that the board was aware that there is spending that was not originally budgeted but we have put in place to ensure that the level of violence does not escalate,” police Chief Heather Fong told the committee Wednesday.

She explained that the request for more money included the hiring of 10 additional police service aides to free up full-duty officers who are working desk duty and allowing them to go on patrol. The bulk of the requested money was to pay for overtime costs of having additional officers out in high-crime areas beginning in mid-August, according to Fong.

Fong said additional officers were deployed to “suppress the level of violence that was escalating in certain communities of our city, primarily the Western Addition, the Bayview, the Mission and, in some cases, Ingleside.”

Adult probation sought additional funding to hire three more probation officers to focus on the cases of those aged between 18 and 25, the age group that has increasingly become violent offenders, according to Arturo Faro, acting chief probation officer of the Adult Probation Department.

The Juvenile Probation Department requested the money for overtime, in order to have six probation officers working an extra 12 hours a week in the community.

The Sheriff’s Department requested the additional money to pay for providing a van and two deputies to help with law enforcement in North Beach on Friday and Saturday nights.

In two weeks, the Budget and Finance Committee will consider, at the request of Supervisor Bevan Dufty, putting $163,000 more into the juvenile department to hire six more probation officers and two more juvenile hall counselors. The committee will also consider more funding for community-based anti-violence organizations, a request made by Supervisor Chris Daly.

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