monopoly_money.jpgSan Francisco Mayor Ed Lee today announced an online tool that allows the public to look at the choices city officials are facing to close a $306 million budget gap and decide what options would be best to balance the budget.

The SF Budget Challenge provides multiple-choice questions on how to save costs in various city departments to close the city’s large budget gap.

Each answer to the questions explains how much money would be saved, and is accompanied by a sidebar with the positive and negative consequences of the choice.

Those wanting to try it out can do so at

Lee has a June 1 deadline to submit a balanced budget to the Board of Supervisors, and has asked all city departments to provide 10 percent savings to the general fund through budget cuts or increased revenue.

“Like many cities and counties across the country, San Francisco faces another difficult budget year,” Lee said in a statement.

“The SF Budget Challenge represents the challenging choices we are making to present a balanced budget that will keep our city safe, solvent and successful for years to come,” he said.

The online tool was developed with the help of the nonprofit Next 10, which launched a similar challenge for the state budget in 2005.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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