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City HallThe AgendaThe city's budget battle comes into clear view ....

The city’s budget battle comes into clear view ….

.... Plus broken elevators in SROs, a mess in the city's housing voucher program—and where did Breed's 'Dreamkeeper' money go? That's The Agenda for April 14-21

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The battle—and it will, I suspect, be a serious battle—over next year’s budget will start to emerge in full detail Wednesday/17 when the Budget and Appropriations Committee holds a hearing on the March update of the city’s five-year financial plan.

We know the numbers are bleak, and if the controller and the mayor’s budget director talk about the likely major reductions in property-tax revenue from giant landlords seeking cuts in the value of office highrises, it could be even uglier.

From the Tax the Rich Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/taxtherichnow/

On the other hand, this is still a very rich city, with 68 billionaires, and that ought to be part of the discussion. It’s also a city that spends billions of dollars a year on contracts with private companies, which often do work that could be done cheaper with city workers.

San Francisco is not alone in facing budget problems; the state has a big deficit, too. But the governor and the state Legislature could solve a whole lot of problems at every level of government if they would allow cities and counties to impose an income tax on wealthy individuals and corporations.

I have not heard anyone from the Mayor’s Office (or any of our state legislators) even whisper about that idea, which might be the most important financial change California could make to address radical economic inequality and government austerity in the coming years.

The committee will also hold a hearing on how Breed’s administration is going to address one of the city’s most pressing problems in a tough budget year. Chair Connie Chan has asked the mayor’s staff to address:

The Mayor’s budgetary decisions to protect and strengthen the City’s 1) homelessness, crisis response and shelter services, 2) preserve healthy Single Room Occupancy (SRO) and supportive housing with adequate staffing, service levels and resident services to prevent substandard housing, and 3) eviction prevention and anti-displacement measures.

That meeting starts at 1:30pm.

The Government Audit and Oversight Committee will hold a hearing Thursday/18 on why it’s taken so long to get the elevators fixed in single-room occupancy hotels, including some managed by city contractors. The supes have allocated more than $10 million to address the problem (which is serious: A lot of buildings with seniors and disabled people have constantly broken elevators, leaving residents essentially trapped in their rooms).

The Mayor’s Office (of course) says it’s complicated. Some of the supes argue it’s just not a priority.

That committee will also hear about why the city’s housing voucher program is having problems. From Sup. Shamann Walton’s request:

San Francisco Housing Authority’s (SFHA) Housing Choice Voucher Program, the decision to contract out that program to a third-party organization, the breach of contract between the third-party organization and the SFHA, and the impact of that breach of contract to the City’s housing programs, low-income residents, and the city budget.

Walton also wants to know exactly where the money from the mayor’s “Dreamkeeper” initative went.

That meeting starts at 10am.        

48 Hills welcomes comments in the form of letters to the editor, which you can submit here. We also invite you to join the conversation on our FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.

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