The Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee held a marathon four-and-a-half hour meeting at Horace Mann Middle School Thursday to discuss the SFMTA and city budget.
The meeting was the second in a series of meetings away from City Hall so the community can “have an input on the budget process,” said Supervisor John Avalos, the chair of the committee.
People from different districts complained about everything from cuts to in-home care services to the Muni budget.
Nathaniel Ford, the executive director of the SFMTA, told the committee that the transit agency would proceed with the 10 percent
reduction in services it approved in February.
Muni said last week they would use part of the $36 million it received from the state to scale back the 10 percent reduction in services.
Instead the cuts are expected to go in effect and the money will be used to plug next year’s $84 million budget deficit.
Ford added that the agency would be able to scale back the 10 percent reduction services in 2012 when the agency is expecting a surplus. The surplus would come from an additional $31 million from the state and “improved economic conditions.”
This prompted questions on exactly what money would be allocated and specifically if it would end up being used by other departments in “work orders.”
Work orders are services other departments provide for Muni like the 311 service or police officers. Work orders have skyrocketed from $36 million in 2006 to $64 million in 2010, according to an April 13 SF Weekly article.
Ford said it might be time to revisit the issue of work orders.
When Supervisor David Chiu questioned why Muni pays San Francisco police $12.5 million to ride buses when it is already part of the officers’ jobs, the crowd of 200 people in the room cheered.
The presence of police on Muni has caused fear among the immigrant community because they feel like they are being intimidated, according to Emily Lee of the Chinese Progressive Association.
Julio Loyola, a day laborer, complained about the decrease in services and blamed Muni’s management.
“Excuse my ignorance, but the person in charge of Muni needs to be elected,” Loyola said. “He should not be appointed by the mayor.”
Members of the audience also criticized the Department of Human Services proposal to demand that in-home care service providers pay $25 dollars a month for their health care instead of the $3 they pay now.
The proposal would save the city $891,789 annually and would help bridge their goal of $28 million in savings for the year.
The proposal faced opposition from union leaders.
“How can I take care of the sick if I get sick too,” said Maria Teresa Martinez, a home care provider.
She added that she is the only income provider in her household and is already facing reduced work hours and other expenses for being a care provider.
Avalos said the meetings are worth the $2,500 they cost the city because of people like Martinez who normally wouldn’t go to budget and finance meetings at City Hall.