SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — San Francisco Mayor London Breed expressed concerns on Thursday about the city’s budget after supervisors approved changes to her proposed budget for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 fiscal years.
Breed submitted her budget proposal just over a month ago, and in it she included investments in the city’s African American community, as well as funding for homelessness, behavioral health, and the city’s COVID-19 response, all while also balancing a $1.5 billion deficit.
During Wednesday’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting, which lasted 16 hours, supervisors finally approved the budget around 2 a.m. Thursday. Among other amendments made to the mayor’s proposed budget, the committee agreed on using $59 million from the city’s Business Tax Stabilization funds to pay for raises for city workers.
The committee also approved an additional $750,000 in the budget to expand the city’s Tenant Right to Counsel program, approved by voters under 2018’s Proposition F, providing financial resources for tenants needing legal representation. Under Breed’s budget proposal, the program would’ve faced cuts by as much as $1 million.
“We are taking a major step forward to making sure every tenant facing eviction gets legal representation,” Supervisor Dean Preston said in a statement. Preston authored the 2018 Tenant Right to Counsel ballot measure.
“I appreciate the support of my colleagues in not only standing up to proposed cuts, but in expanding the right to counsel program at a time when it is desperately needed to keep renters in their homes,” Preston said.
On Thursday morning, Breed responded to the budget amendments, taking issue with the $59 million in tax reserves being allocated to workers, suggesting the funds could be needed for other initiatives as uncertainty remains around how long the pandemic will last. Breed said previously that delaying wage increases for city workers would prevent any layoffs.
“When I proposed my budget last month, we closed an historic $1.5 billion deficit without laying off a single city worker or dramatically reducing services. It wasn’t easy, but I made the tough choices that put our residents and the services they deserve first,” Breed said in a statement.
“But I have deep concerns about the board’s decision to spend our entire $59 million in business tax reserves. The fiscal stability of our city and our ability to continue to deliver essential services can’t be ignored. There is so much we don’t know right now,” Breed said.
“We don’t know how long COVID will be here, we don’t know how long the federal government will continue to reimburse us for expenses, we don’t know when tourists will return, we don’t know the impacts of people working from home will have on our downtown economy, we don’t know how long it will take our entire economy to recover, and we don’t know the outcome of hundreds of millions of dollars that is up for a vote on this November’s ballot,” she said.
The full Board of Supervisors expects to approve the budget by sometime next month, before the Oct. 1 deadline.
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