Mayor Breed, Supes propose millions to fund upcoming elections, more paramedics

SF officials consider separate mid-year budget supplementals

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and city supervisors on Tuesday proposed two separate mid-year budget supplementals — one that would provide $6.9 million to fund upcoming elections and another that would provide $2.5 million to hire more emergency service workers amid a shortage.

Under the first one, Breed and Supervisor Rafael Mandelman proposed allocating $6.9 million from the general reserve, as well as another $5.1 million in repurposed funds, to cover the cost of the upcoming San Francisco Unified School District Board of Education recall, the District 17 State Assembly vacancy, and the San Francisco Assessor-Recorder special elections.

The $5.1 million comes from repurposed funds initially intended to cover costs expected during the failed gubernatorial recall effort, including staffing, security and ballot printing among other costs. The state has since reimbursed The City for the costs.

All three local elections are set to happen on Feb. 15, 2022.

The state Assembly election is a primary, with a second general election for the position to be held in June 2022. That race will fill the vacancy left by former assemblymember David Chiu, who was appointed by Breed to become the San Francisco city attorney.

The recall election for school board President Gabriela Lopez, Vice President Faauuga Moliga and Commissioner Alison Collins was announced just last month, and comes as the district is facing a $125 million budget deficit.

According to Breed, if approved by the Board of Supervisors, the extra funding will help alleviate election costs for the school district, allowing the district to put resources into other areas.

“I have made it clear from the beginning of the pandemic, we need to focus on educating our students, supporting our workforce, and reopening our city,” Breed said in a statement. “During this critical time, we need to ensure that the cost of the school board recall does not fall on the backs of our children, which is why we are stepping in to make sure that this funding goes directly to our students.”

“Whether you agree or disagree with school board recall, we should all agree that our students shouldn’t bear the financial burden of the election. This supplemental will ensure that the Department of Elections is fully funded to do its important work without harming SFUSD students, families,and workers,” Mandelman said.

Also on Tuesday, Breed and Supervisor Ahsha Safai introduced a separate budget supplemental providing $2.5 million to support the San Francisco Fire Department’s hiring efforts to fill shortages of Emergency Management Service workers.

The funding specifically would help the department hire and train 50 new emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

Although the department currently staffs about 200 emergency medical service workers, a recent analysis conducted by city officials concluded city ambulances were having difficulties assigning emergency calls, in part, due to staffing shortages.

“If we are going to continue to meet our emergency response goals, we need to make the necessary investments in public safety,” Breed said. “Every single person in this city should have the confidence that when they are in the most need, this city will respond quickly with emergency care.”

Safai said, “For too long, our fire department paramedics have been overworked, understaffed and underappreciated.”

“Despite a 16% increase in call volume since 2015, new ambulance personnel have not increased to meet this demand,” Fire Chief Jeanine Nicholson said.

If the budget supplemental is ultimately approved by the Board of Supervisors, training for the new hires could start as early as spring 2022.

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