The budget for the City and County of San Francisco for 2016-17 is $9.6 billion. Its proposed budget for 2017-18 is $9.7 billion.
San Francisco occupies 46.87 miles and has a population of 837,442.
Roughly half of the budget goes toward city-related business operations–such as the Port, the bus line, the Airport and the Public Utilities Commission.
The other half of the budget goes toward such public services as Public Health, Police and Fire Services, Recreation and Parks.
As the November 8 election quickly approaches, the most controversial issue on the city ballot is Proposition V.
Specifically, this calls for a tax of one cent per ounce from the distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages.
Currently, San Francisco does not impose a tax on the distribution of sugar-sweetened beverage.
The initiative defines “a sugar-sweetened beverage” as “a beverage that contains added sugar and 25 or more calories per 12 ounces.
“These include some soft drinks, sports drinks, iced tea, juice drinks and energy drinks. The tax would also apply to syrups and powders that can be made into sugar-sweetened beverages, for example, fountain drinks from beverage-dispensing machines.”
Supporters of the initiative are trying to sell it via the “save our kids” argument. The Vote Yes on V campaign states:
“On November 8th, the health of children in San Francisco relies on us.
“Proposition V will tax distributors of soda and other sugary drinks that have direct links to obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart and liver disease.”
Left unsaid is how putting more money into city coffers would lead children to show more restraint in buying “sugar-sweetened beverages.”
Perhaps the real reason why many city officials enthusiastically back this measure can be found in a statement by the San Francisco Controller:
“Should this ordinance be approved, in my opinion, it would result in an annual tax revenue increase to the City of approximately $7.5 million in fiscal year (FY) 2017–2018 and $15 million in FY 2018–19. The tax is a general tax and proceeds would be deposited into the General Fund.”
San Francisco Controller’s Office
San Francisco takes in more than $9 billion in taxes every year. But for many San Francisco officials this just isn’t enough.
Yet for many San Francisco residents, it is. In 2014, they defeated a similar soda tax.
Opponents of the tax have attacked it as a “grocery tax.” They argue that grocers–especially those running the mom-and-pop stores popular in San Francisco–will pass on the costs to their customers by raising prices on groceries altogether.
Proposition V supporters claim this is a lie. Rebecca Kaplan, a member of the Oakland Council, told the Huffington Post: “People worry about having to pay for their groceries. To threaten that their groceries are going to be taxed when it’s not true is a totally despicable tactic from the soda industry.”
Actually, there is nothing in the measure to prevent grocers from passing the tax on to consumers.
Meanwhile, what are San Franciscans getting for the $9 billion in taxes City Hall collects?
- Call the general number of the police or fire department–and chances are you’ll get a recorded message telling you to wait your turn in line.
Call even 9-1-1 and the odds are great that you’ll get the same message. And if you complain to a city official about it, you’ll likely be told: “Well, we have only so many operators.”
The last thing someone calling police or the fire department in a crisis wants to hear is: “We’ll get back to you when we feel like it.”
- Or wander into downtown Market Street, a major thoroughfare into the heart of San Francisco.
You’ll find its red-brick blocks filled with stinking, disease-ridden, drug- or alcohol-addicted, often psychotic men and women whom city officials politely call “the homeless.”
In 2016, the city spent $241 million on “homeless” services. But the population surges between 7,000 and 10,000. Of these, 3,000 to 5,000 refuse shelter.
City officials admit that San Francisco ranks second to New York in homelessness. What they won’t admit is that they are largely responsible for it.
The city’s mild climate and social programs that dole out cash payments to virtually anyone with no residency requirement draw rootless, unstable persons like a magnet.
- The problems affecting the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) aren’t as obvious as the homeless infesting the city’s streets. But they are nevertheless real.
In 2002, the San Francisco Chronicle found that the city’s violent criminals had a better chance of escaping punishment than predators in any other large American city.
The SFPD had the lowest violent crime “clearance rate” among the nation’s 20 largest cities. Among Federal law enforcement agencies like the FBI and the U.S. Marshals Service, the SFPD is considered a joke.
- At the San District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors often can’t decide if they want to lock up criminals–or defend them.
From 2004 to 2011, Kamala Harris served as the city’s District Attorney. In total defiance of the law, she set up a secret unit to keep even convicted illegal aliens out of prison.
Her program, called Back on Track, trained them for jobs they could not legally hold. This was a flagrant violation of Federal immigration law. It is not the duty of local law enforcement, she said, to enforce Federal immigration laws.
In San Francisco, you don’t necessarily get what you pay for.