State deficit may hurt city services

The City’s sick and impoverished could be some of the hardest-hit victims under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget, according to city officials.

Faced with a $14.5 billion deficit, the state’s belt tightening could leave san Francisco between $32 million and $100 million short, on top ofan already projected $229 million deficit, city officials told The Examiner.

This week, Mayor Gavin Newsom’s finance director, Nani Coloretti, sent out a letter to department heads saying that The city will begin mid-year general fund cuts to new programs, unfilled positions as well as delays and eliminations of some projects, to generate budget savings.

A loss of up to $32 million in service cuts and late payments from the state to The City, stemming from the budget that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed Jan. 10, is projected by The Mayor’s Office of Public Policy and Finance, working with the City Controller’s Office.

Hardest hit would be the San Francisco Human Services Agency, which is expected to lose more than $10 million, according to Mayor’s Office and Controller’s Office.

Trent Rhorer, the executive director of Human Services, said The City’s child welfare services, such as foster care, child protection and adoption services ,would see the “most significant” cuts. The pay rate for foster parents would be cut by 10 percent and grants to families under the CalWorks program — a welfare-to work-program — would be jeopardized, Rhorer said.

“This would thrust hundreds if not thousands of families into homelessness,” Rhorer said.

But city officials said that projection could skyrocket to roughly $100 million should lawmakers in Sacramento dip into property and sales tax revenue.

“I would say right now we’re bracing ourselves for $30 million to $100 million” in cuts, said Gigi Whitley of the Mayor’s Office of Public Policy and Finance.

Budget areas affected

These city departments would be the hardest hit by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed budget, according to San Francisco officials:

Public service sectors…estimated cuts

Human Services Agency…$10 million

Health and Welfare…$7 million

Public Health Department…$6.8 million

Health and Welfare…$5 million

Public Safety…$600,000

Source: Mayor’s Office of Public Policy and Finance, Controller’s Office

dsmith@examiner.com

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