Supervisor Sandra Fewer, chair of the Board of Supervisors Budget and Appropriations Committee, led discussions on how to cut Mayor London Breed’s two-year budget proposal. (Examiner file photo)

Supervisors dip into reserves to fund raises for city workers

Mayor has ‘deep concerns’ over board’s use of reserve funds

A Board of Supervisors committee approved Mayor London Breed’s two-year budget proposal early Thursday morning after adding funding for raises for city workers and repurposing tens of millions of dollars for other spending priorities.

The Board of Supervisors Budget and Appropriations Committee, chaired by Supervisor Sandra Fewer, voted at 2 a.m. to approve a budget proposal after making changes following weeks of hearings and final discussions that lasted all day Wednesday and into Thursday.

The full board will vote to adopt it on Sept. 22.

“This is an incredibly complex budget cycle as we struggle to address a pandemic, an economic recession, unresolved labor contracts and critical policy conversations about racial equity and the role of policing in public safety,” Fewer said before the five-member committee unanimously voted to support the proposal. “This budget reflects the priorities of the board to protect the most vulnerable, especially during this immense economic and health crisis.”

The committee made about $50 million in cuts to the general fund of Breed’s proposal and reallocated the money to fund other priorities. That includes $500,000 each member of the board had to spend on specific needs in their district.

A large share of the so-called “add-back” money came from the committee’s $26 million cut to the Police Department’s budget, which was made by slashing three of four scheduled academy classes and overtime spending amid a national movement to “defund” the police in reaction to the killing of George Floyd.

The committee also decided to use $59 million in so-called Business Tax Stabilization Reserve funds to pay for the raises of city workers that are scheduled to go into effect in December, among other things. When Breed introduced her budget proposal, she did not fund the raises and asked labor to defer them.

Labor leaders, however, criticized that decision.

The committee allocated $36.9 million of the total reserve funds to fund 3 percent raises.

In a statement Thursday morning, Breed said that “I have deep concerns about the Board’s decision to spend our entire $59 million in business tax reserves.”

“As Mayor, I have a responsibility beyond this budget to ensure we can continue to deliver for the residents of San Francisco not just today, but tomorrow, next month, and in the years ahead,” Breed said. “I cannot support the Board’s decision to appropriate additional funds from our reserves that threatens our ability to do so.”

She added, “I will use all of my discretion and authority to protect this City from any additional financial risks.”

The second year of the budget still does not include funding for raises but labor leaders and city officials have time to further discuss the matter between now and next fiscal year.

The funding does not include police officers, who had agreed to a deal with the Mayor’s Office that deferred raises for two years. The board is expected to vote on the police agreement only after it approves the budget.

The committee’s use of these reserve funds is contingent upon the passage of the gross receipts tax reform measure before voters on Nov. 3.

Committee members praised the proposal.

“No one is going to be happy with everything that is in here, but it’s a good product,” said Supervisor Rafael Mandelman.

Supervisor Shamann Walton said, “I feel good about where we are.”



jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

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