By Rebecca Bowe
This afternoon, a special meeting of the Budget & Finance Committee will be held to determine whether to take roughly $8 million out of the Department of Public Health reserve — money that’s already spoken for, but that some Supervisors say will be replenished before the next budget cycle — in order to stave off layoffs and salary cuts to front-line city workers in the Department of Public Health. Directly after the special meeting, the item will go before the full Board for a vote at today’s meeting.
SEIU Local 1021, the union representing city workers who’ve been pitted in an ongoing battle with mayor since the budget cuts were announced, has done its best to line up the eight votes needed to restore the cuts, leaning heavily on Sup. Sophie Maxwell to reverse her prior position by robo-calling in her district and encouraging political heavyweights to urge her to support the item.
On a conference call yesterday afternoon, Assembly Member Tom Ammiano said the city should count on stimulus dollars generated by Assembly Bill 1383 to refund the roughly $8 million.
“There seems to be a dispute about those funds, but we took the extra step to get the funding,” Ammiano said, noting that he worked with Assembly Member Dave Jones on the legislation that secures the money for public health services. “They pulled the trigger much too early here,” Ammiano said, referring to the layoffs. Noting that the mayor seemed to be disputing the purpose of the funding, Ammiano said, “I thought the purpose was to prevent layoffs.”
When asked what the Mayor Gavin Newsom thought the money should be used for, his press secretary, Joe Arellano, indicated that Newsom disagrees that it should be applied to stave off immediate layoffs. “The funds will ultimately will be used to prevent layoffs and other cuts, since, assuming it comes to us in time to apply toward next year’s deficit, it will reduce the cuts we need to make in order to balance,” Arellano said.
Check back here later for an update.