Trauma is alive and well in San Francisco: as the eponymous television show was brought back to life by its Burbank-based bankrollers; so too has the Trauma Recovery Center (as in the real-life rape, domestic violence and other real-life crisis center, which provides said real-life services free of charge) been resuscitated — at least until the the summertime. And at a much-lower rate!
Once scheduled to be closed March 1, the center will stay open at least bit longer, and at the bargain price of $425,000 (which would have bought you about two minutes’ worth of a Seinfeld episode). The Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee restored that and another approximately $800,000 worth of services to the Department of Public Health on Wednesday.
Earlier this month, closing the Trauma Recovery Center, ending residential in-home substance abuse treatment services, and merging two psychiatric wards containing dangerous and not-so-dangerous patients at SF General Hospital were proposed in Mayor Gavin Newsom’s midyear cut plan, part of a city-wide effort to scrape together some $50 million in savings for this year’s budget deficit before the city has to scrape together some $500 million more in savings for next year’s budget deficit.
Now all that needs to happen is full Board approval next week — and approval from the Mayor, who gets to choose whether or not he’ll actually spend the money on those services.
“I’m hoping he will — I haven’t heard that he won’t,” Budget Chair Supervisor John Avalos said.
It’s to everyone’s benefit that he does, Avalos added — the city needs to agree on how to close its midyear gap sooner, rather than later: next month, bean-counters from Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s are coming to town to assess the city’s credit rating.
Why should you care? You’d care if you were about to sell over $1 billion in bonds on parks and hospitals, and about to ask the voters in June to approve almost $1 billion more. Those beancounters will watch, notice and judge, and if city leaders have a contentious time balancing the midyear budget, the city’s bond rating will suffer, Avalos said.
This “add-back” process is a familiar one to anyone attuned to the city’s seemingly-endless budget proceedings, and one that will play out numerous times before the 2010-2011 budget is finalized this summer.
Last year, progressive supervisors won about $44 million worth of add-backs to public services from the Mayor’s Office, and politically-savvy readers may be interested to know that the $450,000 worth of substance abuse treatment services scheduled to be cut were part of the add-backs.
This is exactly what Supervisor Chris Daly warned us about, too — that Newsom couldn’t be trusted to keep his word, and programs saved in July would just be killed in January.
Avalos thinks that it was all a mistake, and that the killed add-back — the only summertime add-back killed during this round of midyear cuts, he notes — is merely an “oversight.”
More budget fun to come next month, kids: the Mayor will announce more mid-year cuts, and if there’s pressure from those bond-rating analysts, watch out.
“There’s nothing but tough decisions ahead,” Avalos said. “I’m bracing myself.”