Nurse Hiring, Raises Contribute to San Francisco Budget Deficit
On Wednesday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) directed city department leaders to propose 13% cuts in their budgets to help address a projected $229 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2008-2009, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Newsom also ordered a hiring freeze.
The mayor has given department heads until February 2008 to submit their proposed budgets.
Ed Harrington, San Francisco's controller, attributed the largest portion of the projected deficit to a substantial jump in hiring last year -- including 200 public health nurses -- and significant raises for unionized nurses, firefighters and police officers.
City officials said dealing with the budget deficit might necessitate layoffs, major cuts to department budgets and fee increases for city services.
The Department of Public Health has the largest budget of San Francisco's agencies. Its director, Mitch Katz, said he has been preparing for the expected budget cuts, going so far as ordering a department hiring freeze before the mayor called for one.
Katz expects the department to have to accommodate a $40 million budget cut next year.
Supervisor Tom Ammiano said the budget projection is part of Newsom's political agenda, adding, "Whenever there's been a dark scenario like this, we manage to find solutions."
Tim Paulson -- executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council, which represents more than 150 labor unions -- said he expects a budget to emerge that does not require staff cuts (Vega, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/29).