SF supervisors begin review of mayor’s $8.9 billion budget proposal

San Francisco’s soaring tax revenues has done little to quell disputes over spending priorities in the mayor’s $8.9 billion budget proposal.

The Board of Supervisor Budget and Finance Committee kicked off its review Monday of the budget proposal, setting the stage for debates over spending for homeless families, staffing for Recreation and Park club houses, hiring of police officers and a greater investment in below market rate housing.

The five-member committee will comb through the city departments’ budget proposals during the next two weeks and make cuts. One of the largest debates is over police funding, of which the budget includes $11.6 million for five police academy classes and $3 million for police body cameras. On Thursday, the Coalition on Homelessness will release a report on the criminalization of homeless persons, as the nonprofit has called for a greater investment in housing, not law enforcement.

The committee will take the revenues it amassed from budget cuts and vote on how to reallocate it in the budget proposal, a process that usually includes negotiations with the Mayor’s Office.

Supervisor Eric Mar said that given the housing and affordability crisis there remains “many different needs from immigrant legal defense to homeless families and transitional aged youth and even more for seniors with delivered groceries and other programs.”

Supervisor Scott Wiener said The City needs to invest more in housing construction and develop a plan to ensure below market rate developments occur in all neighborhoods, not just those with a concentration of low-income residents. “There is very little affordable housing being built in my district,” said Wiener, who represents the Castro.

He noted the issue needs to be addressed now more than ever since the mayor has introduced legislation that would give existing residents priority for the 25 percent of below market rate housing built in their respective district.

Wiener also reiterated his position that The City needs to figure out how to find the funding to reassume the responsibility of caring for the street trees, instead of private property owners.

Supervisor Norman Yee raised concerns about the continued increase in Recreation and Parks Department’s park patrol while rec centers lack adequate staffing to make them “really a hang out.”

The public will have a chance to weigh in on the budget proposal Friday, beginning at 9 am. The committee is expected to conclude hearings on June 24.

Ultimately the full board will have to vote to adopt the budget proposal.

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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