Mayor Ed Lee’s expected to unveil an $8.9 billion city budget today at City Hall, a 4 percent increase from the current fiscal year, which will add 1,178 city jobs predominately in police, fire and Muni, along with staffing for the newly built general hospital.
With city revenues projected to keep rising there are no cuts in the budget proposal, but instead increased spending on such things as 500 additional units of supportive housing, five police academy classes, a 2.5 percent cost-of living increase for contracted nonprofits, and a special office for enforcement of short-term rentals.
The mayor’s budget director Kate Howard said The City’s in a “really unique time” when it comes to strong revenue growth. “I have not seen a moment in time where we have been able to make the kinds of investments that we are,” she said.
The boost in revenues will translate into expanding city government’s current workforce of 28,435 to 29,613 city workers. A large part of that job growth is through spending $11 million on five police academy classes next fiscal year, part of a two-year plan to hire 400 more officers.
Muni’s budget will exceed $1 billion for the first time, as The City says it will increase service by 10 percent. With the hiring of more police officers and spending $3 million annually on planned body cameras, the Police Department’s current $528.8 million budget will increase by $19.6 million.
Nonprofits have called on The City to increase their funding to keep up with cost-of-living, pay rising rents and give employees raises. The mayor’s budget includes a 2.5 percent increase, or $12.5 million for the next fiscal year. Still, the strong revenue is clouded in some people’s eyes by the continued rise in rents, evictions and growing economic inequality.
Homeless advocates are calling for a greater investment to house the more than 3,000 children who are without homes. But Howard defends the level of investment proposed in the budget. For example, she said “This budget is making the most significant expansion to supportive housing that we have seen in years by adding 500 new units of supportive housing. That’s really unprecedented.”
The cost for the additional units would be $7 million annually.
The mayor’s faced criticism from San Francisco’s more left-leaning politicians who say he fails to adequately share the wealth and address economic inequality. Supervisor John Avalos said he expects “spin and obfuscation” during today’s mayoral budget address. Asked to elaborate, Avalos said the mayor will attempt to conceal “how little he’s doing to really address growing inequalities.
How little he’s worked collaboratively to address San Francisco’s affordability crisis.”
Once introduced, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee will hold hearings on the budget and vote to make changes. Ultimately, the full board needs to approve it.