Spending proposal dips into S.F. budget surplus

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote Tuesday on a controversial proposal to spend$17.6 million of this budget year’s surplus and empty a so-called rainy-day reserve fund amid criticism from the Mayor’s Office.

The board recently approved spending $33 million of this year’s projected $126.6 million surplus on affordable housing needs. Mayor Gavin Newsom has criticized the proposal, given that The City faces a deficit next year and that he needs to submit a balanced budget to the board by June 1.

Supervisor Chris Daly proposed during the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee meeting Wednesday using all $15.8 million in a rainy-day reserve fund intended for one-time capital expenses to soften the blow of the overall $33 million proposal, by lowering the surplus spending on housing by that amount.

Daly included the proposal in a separate request to spend $17.6 million of this budget year’s surplus on services for seniors, families, children and the disabled.

The committee is expected to meet Monday and approve the proposal, which would then come before the full Board of Supervisors for a vote on Tuesday.

Newsom’s spokesman Nathan Ballard said, “It’s like the board is going out for a wild night on the town when they know the rent is due the next day. It’s mind-boggling.”

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, the only committee member to oppose the proposal, criticized the use of the rainy-day fund. He said there should not be any use of the fund without an assessment of what The City’s other capital needs are.

Daly criticized Newsom for accusing him last month of playing politics with The City’s financial health and said he was spending responsibly and addressing the needs of San Francisco residents.

Daly said if Newsom’s budget submission does not include the items funded through the board’s surplus spending proposals, he would re-appropriate money to ensure they are funded.

“Just keep in mind the board will reappropriate monies and I will start with things you [Newsom] do press conferences for and then I’ll go from there. If I get the votes on this committee, that’s where I’ll begin,” said Daly, chair of the board’s Budget and Finance Committee.

Supervisor Bevan Dufty said he was supportive of the spending proposals. “It is frustrating to me that we could not have the type of working relationship that would make it clear that these needs will be addressed in the budget we will receive in June,” Dufty said.

It remains unclear how Newsom plans on handling the surplus spending proposals. His options include vetoing them, spending the money or not spending the money.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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