Muni Funding Measure Based on Population Added to November Ballot

Voters will decide whether to tie funding for San Francisco Municipal Railway to the city’s population growth this November after the Board of Supervisors voted today to place the measure on the ballot.

The board voted 6-4 to approve Supervisor Scott Wiener’s charter amendment, which would require Muni funding to be reassessed each July 1 based on changes to the population.

It would also retroactively increase Muni’s budget to account for the population growth of the last 10 years. The estimated initial budget increase is between $20 million and $25 million based on the 85,000 new residents of the city since 2003.

The initiative was originally designed as an alternative to a vehicle license fee proposed by Mayor Ed Lee, Wiener said, but that measure will not appear on the ballot until 2016 at the earliest.

If that measure does eventually pass, Wiener said there is a mechanism that would allow the mayor to remove his amendment from the city charter.

The board added a general obligation bond measure to improve Muni funding to the November ballot last week, and some supervisors expressed concern that two transportation-funding measures could be confusing for voters.

Supervisor Katy Tang, who voted against Wiener’s amendment, said that the general obligation bond was her priority and that she was also concerned that Wiener’s amendment would immediately allocate $22 million of the city’s general fund.

Wiener said that, if passed by a majority of voters, the amendment “will help us address the huge challenges we have” keeping transportation available and on time.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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