Balancing the Budget

Mayor’s Proposed Budget Fiscal years 2012-2013 & 2013-2014

I am honored to present the first ever Two-Year Proposed Budget for the City and County of San Francisco for Fiscal Years 2012-13 and 2013-14. This budget is the culmination of hard work and collaboration by our City’s elected officials, residents, departments, community organizations, employees and a wide range of other stakeholders. Over the last several years, our City has taken the steps to put us on the road towards greater financial stability through pension reform and more disciplined financial policies. This year is no different: as we prepared this budget, we focused not just on getting through the next two years, but on the steps that are necessary to ensure the City’s long-term financial health.

In late 2011 when I issued my budget instructions to department heads, our projected General Fund deficit was $262.7 million for Fiscal Year (FY) 2012-13 and $375.3 million for FY 2013-14. In light of this challenge, I have worked to expand the discussion to include as many people, perspectives and ideas as possible. I believe our budget reflects the results of these efforts: there are no reductions to services in my proposed budget. Instead, to help me balance the budget, departments submitted ideas aligned with my instructions by prioritizing core functions, identifying administrative efficiencies, streamlining programs, and identifying new revenue solutions instead of service reductions.

We are fortunate that our economy has continued to accelerate in 2012, providing better-than-expected revenues that also made it possible for me to submit a balanced budget without service cuts. Since early 2011, the City’s unemployment rate has dropped from 9.6 percent to 7.4 percent—the lowest unemployment rate for our City since 2008. We’ve created 22,500 net new jobs in San Francisco in just the last year!

Our City’s budget is a statement of our values. Many of you have heard me speak about my effort to craft a budget based on three guiding principles I am using to make decisions on behalf of our City: Involvement, Investment, and Innovation.


I recognize that our achievements as a city are founded in our commitment to hear directly from our residents, communities, and neighborhood organizations about what matters most to them. This is why I partnered with members of the Board of Supervisors to hold six budget town hall meetings across the City; held policy-area budget stakeholder meetings with community leaders; hosted the first ever Innovation Budget Town Hall using Google+ hangout technology; and met with hundreds of residents, community organizations, City Commissioners, labor organizations, business owners, and activists to discuss the budget. I also continue to work for greater transparency around the budget process. Your engagement in city policy and decision making is critical to ensuring that the fiscal choices we make accurately reflect the voices, perspectives, and priorities of our diverse San Francisco communities.

We have also worked very hard to come to agreement with our employee unions. For almost every employee group, we found common ground that saved the City money, protected city services, eliminated furlough days and made improvements to control employee health care costs. Our agreements with labor help to save the City more than $28 million over the next two years. These agreements also include a modest wage increase in the second year to our
employees, recognizing they have sacrificed over the last several years to help us balance difficult budget deficits.


By choosing to live, work, and play in San Francisco, we are all investing in the City. Our City government should, in turn, secure the value of its citizens’ investments by making responsible, long-term, and strategic financial decisions.

This budget invests in strategies that incentivize job creation and train and place our residents in the jobs of the 21st century. We propose new investments to support our local manufacturing industry and companies through SFMade; develop international markets for San Francisco companies and products; and fund workforce training initiatives for technology, healthcare, and construction.

This budget also includes new commitments to neighborhood commercial districts and small businesses. It more than doubles grant funding to $1.5 million; adds $4 million to dramatically expand loans and other grants specifically targeted at local small businesses; doubles the team that works full time in neighborhood commercial corridors to streamline permitting and link small businesses with City programs and resources; and launches the Jobs Squad to help small businesses, and get city staff out of City Hall and into the neighborhoods.

Another critical way this budget prepares San Francisco for a successful economic future is by investing in the City’s physical infrastructure. It reflects the City’s significant investment in capital by proposing to spend $441.4 million to improve, maintain and renew our collective assets. Combined during the life of the projects, these capital investments will support approximately 2,900 construction and related industry jobs to continue San Francisco’s current economic recovery and put residents back to work.

Investing in our City also means investing in a social safety net and public protection for our citizens. San Francisco must be safe in the traditional sense of public safety—meaning that residents are safe from crime, and have quick, reliable emergency response. This budget includes funding for three police academy classes, and one fire academy class each year to ensure our public safety departments are well staffed—a significant feat in light of the deep reductions to public safety taking place in neighboring cities and counties.

One thing I think everyone in our City agrees on is that in a year where the state and federal governments are scaling back, protecting our social safety net is more important than ever. In this budget, I have rejected service reductions at the Department of Public Health and Human Services Agency, and I have included full restoration of state and federal cuts to HIV/AIDS services. In addition, we have included a 1.0 percent cost-of-doing business increase in our budget for nonprofit service providers who have not seen an adjustment for five years.


Cities like San Francisco thrive because of their ability to cultivate innovative ideas. In order to meet the demands of the 21st century, we must all embrace innovation. Innovation in the public sector doesn’t just mean bringing technology into government, it is a different way of thinking, of collaboration, of solving problems, of doing more with less, promoting excellence in customer service, and building on the incredible talents of both our public employees and the private sector in this City—the most innovative on the planet.

This spirit of innovation was demonstrated by our community at the beginning of the AIDS pandemic three decades ago, and again more recently when we became the first city in America to provide universal health care to all of its residents. It is the same spirit we show when people of different backgrounds and cultures come together to make our neighborhoods safer and more vibrant for all of us, whether it’s on Third Street or Sixth Street or anywhere else in our great City.

In the coming year, we will update our City’s Five-Year Financial Plan, and I am challenging myself, our departments, and our community partners to shift to a longer-term view of our city’s finances, and begin to think practically and strategically about the steps we need to take to ensure San Francisco remains the exciting, diverse, and thriving City we love.

The City Charter requires the Mayor to submit a balanced budget proposal on June 1. However, I view this submission as a step in a process and not the end. I am proud of what we’ve accomplished in this budget submission, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Board of Supervisors to develop the best budget possible for the City and County of San Francisco.


Mayor Edwin M. Lee

For more information on the Proposed 2012-2013 & 2013-2014 Budget, please click here






Visit the following pages for more information:
Mayor's Office of Public Policy and Finance
Controller’s Office
Board of Supervisors Budget website