Is San Francisco headed towards fiscal fiasco? There’s definitely a deadlock at City Hall over the budget for the fiscal year 2010-2011, which began July 1: Mayor Gavin Newsom repeated Thursday his pledge to not sign the Board of Supervisor’s version of his balanced budget, saying that it’s “irresponsible” to rely on proposed tax measures for revenue.
The Board must drop those tax measures — a hotel tax, a real estate transfer tax, and a commercial rent tax — from the November ballot and must also drop two charter amendments giving supervisors more control over appointing Muni and Rec and Park commissioners or Newsom will “unequivocally” not sign the budget, he said Thursday.
“Where are you going to find the money?” Newsom asked the supervisors Thursday (though to be fair they weren’t there, on a sunny Valencia Street, to answer). “Don’t go to the voters and tell them to do the job you were hired to do [i.e. finding money].”
Newsom introduced a balanced budget June 1. The Board of Supervisors spent June and part of July tweaking Newsom’s spending plan, restoring some $40 million to programs Newsom planned to cut or reduce, but some of that $40 million does come from tax measures which voters have yet to approve on the November ballot. The Board votes on a balanced budget July 20, but there’s no guarantee Newsom will sign the document or spend the money.
It’s not news that the Board and Mayor are staring each other down over the budget and refuse to budge. It is news that the two sides aren’t meeting regularly to discuss any sort of compromise. Supervisor John Avalos, chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee, says he hasn’t seen the mayor “since July 1,” meeting instead with mayoral chief of staff Steve Kawa “two or three times.”
And while Newsom on July 1 asked Avalos to “take care” of his colleagues’ offending charter amendments, in the ensuing talks, Avalos says Kawa has not “asked me to drop” the real estate transfer tax, nor has he “wished away the other measures.”
“I leave that to the mayor and my colleagues,” Avalos said.
As for the colleagues? Board President David Chiu said Monday he would meet with Newsom on Wednesday; but the mayor’s trip to San Diego prevented that tete-a-tete.