SF Supervisors meet over Muni's budget

May 27, 2009 7:20:39 PM PDT
San Francisco supervisors met in a special session on Wednesday over Muni's proposed budget for next year. They didn't like what they saw, but Muni's financial situation is so desperate, the transit agency will have to raise fares and cut back on bus routes.

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"Since we're all dissatisfied with this crappy budget, let's get a little better budget," said San Francisco Supervisor John Avalos.

Avalos led the fight to reject the proposed Muni budget. Two weeks ago, the board by one vote defeated the move to turn down the $766 million budget.

But since then, Muni says its deficit for the next fiscal year may be $18 million more than what they told the supervisors. Muni now expects Sacramento to grab more property tax money from city coffers, which would affect Muni as well.

Opponents of the budget say too much of the burden is on riders and not enough on motorists.

While it would give some breaks for seniors, disabled and minors, the proposed budget would still raise fares next year and cut back on many of its routes.

"For years to come, I can see that every time the MTA is in a major budget deficit, our response will be fare increases," said San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi.

Budget opponents want to reduce the deficit by increasing parking rates at city garages, and expand parking meter hours.

But Muni chief Nathaniel Ford says those options need more review.

"It was decided at this juncture not to go forward with parking expansion, hours of service as well as Sunday enforcement," said Ford.

Supervisor Sophie Maxwell defended Muni's budget.

"There are compromises everyone has to make and these are compromises we have to make," said Maxwell.

Board President David Chiu says it's time to put this all to rest.

"We've come quite a bit of a ways since this MTA budget was first proposed April 2nd," said Chiu.

In the end, the motion to reject the budget failed. But Muni's not out of the woods yet. The budget deficit may grow bigger if the state takes even more property tax money from the city than projected.

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