San Francisco’s not ready to make $118 million in budget cuts.
I realize the city can’t operate at a deficit, and if payment due exceeds accounts received, something has to be done. But it can wait a few weeks. In fact, the final decisions ought to wait for the new Board of Supervisors to take office in January. The city won’t go broke in the meantime.
But Mayor Gavin Newsom is rushing his cuts through, demanding 400 layoffs and taking a hatchet to the Department of Public Health. There are all sorts of alternatives our editorial in this issue looks at how the city can bring in more revenue. There’s also a lot more sanity needed as the board and the mayor look at what could be devastating reductions in essential public services.
For example: I like the 311 program. It’s convenient. But I’d rather wait longer for my non-emergency call to be answered than to have public health workers lose their jobs. And the 311 budget hasn’t been touched.
Police and fire are, of course, essential but it’s insane to give the cops and firefighters, who are among the best-paid city workers, a 7.5 percent pay hike this year while social service workers are getting laid off.
It’s lovely to have more fire stations per square mile than any other big city in California, but there are nowhere near as many fires as there were when the system was designed, and closing some down would save millions.
How come the mayor still has seven people in his press office, most of whom are paid to keep the press from finding out what’s going on?
Why are we talking about cutting the $800,000 Small Business Assistance Center, which actually helps the most important sector of the economy, when there’s $10 million, much of it redundant, in the mayor’s Office of Economic Development?
Why is Dean Macris, the former city planning director, still hanging around and getting paid?
Wouldn’t an across-the-board wage freeze be better than layoffs? What about capping the pay for city employees at $150,000 a year? What about capping police overtime?
What about having all these discussions in public, before the mayor sends out pink slips?
Or would that just make too much sense?