Where Has the Money Gone?


Phillip Sprincin

{city-journal.org} ~In 2009, San Francisco’s municipal budget totaled $6.5 billion—$8.6 billion in today’s dollars, adjusted for inflation and population. San Francisco’s budget for 2019 is an eye-popping $12.2 billion, a 10 percent increase just since 2018. The city has failed to match this staggering budget growth with a similar increase in capital investment or services, however, providing an object lesson in the limits of what money can do.

Companies like Google, Salesforce, and Uber, headquartered in and around the city, pour sky-high salaries and stock-option windfalls into the local economy, which has seen real estate values—and the cost of everything else—soar. City coffers overflow with tax revenue. Though the effect has been most pronounced for the past decade, it extends as far back as the first dot-com boom, 20 years ago—in 1999, the city budget was $4.2 billion, equivalent to $7.7 billion today. The excess budget above inflation and population growth over those 20 years totals an astonishing $23 billion.

What has San Francisco done with this wealth? Not much. The Municipal Transportation Agency (“Muni”), which runs the busses and metro, has struggled with failure after failure this year. The housing shortage in the city is so bad that it is driving people to live in cars and even boats. Homelessness is up 14 percent in the past 6 years. Dirty streets, with needles and worse on the sidewalks, were an issue in last year’s mayoral race. A city seemingly rich enough to pave its roads with gold finds them covered in trash.

San Francisco has squandered its fortune. Proclaiming itself a “Transit First” city, density and geography make it one of the U.S. cities best suited for public transport. The city could have used its $23 billion excess to build dozens of miles of subway. Instead, it dug just 1.6 miles of the Central Subway, still not open. San Francisco did build a downtown train station, the Salesforce Transit Center, billed as the “Grand Central of the West”—except that it didn’t fund a tunnel to the station, so no trains go there yet, only busses.

San Francisco politicians also claim to care about affordable housing. Even at the inflated rate to build such housing in the Bay Area—up to $700,000 per unit—$23 billion could have built 33,000 units in the past 20 years. The total number of subsidized units in the city was only about 33,000 in 2018, and just 3,741 of them came from city programs like public housing or the mayor’s office. The rest came from federal, state, or private investment.

San Francisco also claims to care greatly about green energy and rising sea levels. With $23 billion, it could have installed solar panels on every building in the city at no cost to the owner, with almost $16 billion to spare for coastal defenses. Instead, San Francisco offers an anemic $1,500 credit for a typical solar installation, and seawalls have gotten no further than an “action plan” and a “vulnerability and consequences assessment.”

It wasn’t always this way. In the 20 years from 1917 to 1937, San Francisco dug the Twin Peaks and Sunset tunnels that remain central to its metro system; completed the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, which provides some of America’s cleanest water; and built both the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, which connect it to the region and sustain its jobs. All these projects are still used daily.

There have been some success stories. The city’s OneSF capital plan has been making long overdue improvements to streets and sewers. The Public Utilities Commission has completed several major seismic upgrades to the Hetch Hetchy water system, helping prepare for the eventual major earthquake. Two parks bonds, in 2008 and 2012, led to spectacular renovations of city parks and playgrounds. But these largely represent good governance and incremental improvements, not the fruits of billions of dollars of spending. With no grand projects to point to, it’s reasonable to wonder where all the money has gone.

Municipal employment has eaten up a large share. Salaries and benefits account for almost 45 percent of the budget, averaging $175,004 per employee, in a city where median household income is $96,265. The city employs 31,830 people, one for every 28 residents and six employees for every city block. The $873 million spent on grants—payments to nonprofits or other groups for various social services—almost equals the total spent on capital projects and facilities maintenance combined.

The larger issues, however, are political indifference and bureaucratic mismanagement. San Francisco carries principal debt of $3.63 billion, which could have been paid down since 2015 with millions to spare. Instead of making this long investment in the city’s financial future, San Francisco’s leaders have grown used to revenue that grow without effort and issued more than $1 billion of additional debt. The current budget is now burdened with $1.6 billion of debt service.

The paltry results from exceptional budget growth are also a story of mismanagement. The Central Subway, though one of the most expensivesubway projects in the world, has almost run out of money; its opening was recently delayed another 18 months. Last year, Muni made critical upgrades to the century old Twin Peaks tunnel, requiring additional busses to substitute for trains during the work. Muni didn’t plan for the extra drivers and took them from other routes, leaving the city short on service and causing a system-wide “meltdown.” The “Grand Central of the West,” despite having no tunnel or tracks, still cost $2.2 billion; it closed only six weeks after opening, due to structural cracks. The city spent $2 million to build a public bathroom at $4,700 per square foot, a construction cost similar to high-rise luxury condos. As successful as the OneSF capital plan has been, searching for a list of projects on its website returns the message, “the requested page could not be found.” San Francisco demonstrates that throwing in more money will compound mismanagement, not solve it.

The story of San Francisco’s budget over the past two decades shows that the city’s leadership doesn’t really value many of the issues—transit, affordable housing, clean energy—that it says it does. Given how little the city has done with its incredible windfall, year after year, it’s not clear what it values at all.

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DemoncRat-Socialist and ruining our Judeo-Christian Nation United States of America and Cities!!

Please Pray for our Judeo-Christian Nation United States of America and Israel-Yisrael and our Christian Earth Everyday!! "Pray Without Ceasing." ( 1 Thessalonians 5:17 KJV )!!

I am a Conservative Christian Republican Patriot in our Judeo-Christian Nation United States of America and I STAND with the Holy Land of Israel-Yisrael!!

Love Always and Shalom ( Peace ), YSIC \o/

Kristi Ann

Kristi

Yes, Amen

In a word... Communism... Communist never worry about money... as long as, other people have any they will continue to levy it for their wages and personal projects... often, funding nepotism and cronyism. 

Ronald

Some of that is true but they do worry about money. Thats why they want to control all aspect of everyone's life.

Exactly, like I said they don't worry about money as long as other people have any... they will continue to levy it for their wages and personal projects... 

Ronald

OK I'll go along with that.

Where has the money gone... gone to graveyards, everyone... where has the money gone, gone to seed every dollar... where has the money gone... gone to the money changers and hell everycent... that's where the money goes... 

God hath said ... the purse of the corrupt is full of holes... they sow only to have the cankerworm devour their seed, they eat and drink but are never satisfied, they earn money only too put it in a purse full of holes.

Haggai 1:6 - Bible Gateway
https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en/Haggai 1:6

You have planted much, but you harvest little. You eat, but you do not become full. You drink, but you are still thirsty. You put on clothes, but you are not warm enough. You earn ·money [wages], ·but then you lose it all as if you had  put it into a purse full of holes.”

There is great wisdom to be learned from the scriptures if only our children were taught them...

Lets see, Trump gave $8 billion to the NWO UN, and when Obama was in office we had a $123 Trillion in unfounded notes in liabilities, now it is close to $220 Trillion, so what happened...:)

http://www.usadebtclock.com/

The US Debt Clock shows 123 Trillion in unfunded debt at this very moment...Other sources put our unfunded debt at 50 to 201 trillion... no one has a lock on the figure.

See: https://www.bing.com/search?q=unfunded+liabilities+in+the+USA+today...

Ronald

Thats true and no other countries are helping out.

You think Ronald, wait until I post the real numbers...:)

The estimates of our unfunded liabilities are best guesses...  given the types of liabilities and the length of time before the estimators choose to start and stop the clock on the calculations. Calculations for the funding for government Retirement annuities is tricky at best. 

Hence, the reason we have credible figures ranging from 50 to 210 Billion in unfunded liabilities.  See: https://www.bing.com/search?q=unfunded+liabilities+in+the+usa+today....

RSS

LIGHTER SIDE

 

Political Cartoons by Gary Varvel

Political Cartoons by AF Branco

ALERT ALERT

Joe Biden Vows: Give Taxpayer-Funded Obamacare To All Illegal Aliens In U.S.

Former Vice President and 2020 Democrat presidential primary candidate Joe Biden is vowing to give Obamacare, funded by American taxpayers, to all 11 to 22 million illegal aliens living in the United States.

During an interview with Telemundo’s Jose Diaz-Balart, Biden forgot that Obamacare technically bans illegal aliens from enrolling in healthcare plans — although illegal aliens are still able to obtain subsidized and free healthcare at Americans’ expense — and promised that under his plan, all 11 to 22 million illegal aliens would be able to get Obamacare.

The exchange went as follows:

DIAZ-BALART: When I … NBC moderated that first debate with you, I didn’t … I don’t recall a clear answer, under your plan should … would the 11, 12 million undocumented immigrants that live in the United States, that have been here many for generations, would they have access …

BIDEN: Yes.

DIAZ-BALART: — to health insurance.

BIDEN: Yes, they … if they can buy into the system like everybody else.

DIAZ-BALART: Because you know, in [Obamacare] they can’t.

BIDEN: Yeah. Yeah, I know. Well they can, that’s my point. They continue to be able to do that.

DIAN-BALART: They cannot under the ObamaCare.

BIDEN: Well and that’s my point, they will though. They will be able to buy into … [illegal aliens] would be able to buy in, just like anyone else could.

Biden joins Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg — among other 2020 Democrats — in committing to forcing American taxpayers to pay for healthcare for illegal aliens who arrive in the U.S.

Already, due to loopholes, American taxpayers are spending nearly $20 billion every year to provide illegal aliens with subsidized healthcare, emergency room visits, and other health services.

Under the 2020 Democrats’ plan to provide taxpayer-funded healthcare to all illegal aliens living in the U.S., Americans would be billed potentially $660 billion every decade just to cover the costs. Other research has found that the plan would cost Americans at least $23 billion every year.

As Breitbart News has reported, experts have said that giving taxpayer-funded healthcare to effectively all foreign nationals who can make it to America’s borders would drive “strong incentives for people with serious health problems to enter the country or remain longer than their visas allow in order to get government-funded care.”

Despite 2020 Democrats’ continued push for taxpayer-funded healthcare for illegal aliens, American voters are overwhelmingly opposed to the plan. The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey revealed that the healthcare-for-illegal-aliens plan is the least popular policy position, with opposition from 62 percent of U.S. voters.

Similarly, a CNN poll from July discovered that 63 percent of likely swing voters oppose providing healthcare to illegal aliens, along with nearly 6-in-10 of all likely U.S. voters and 61 percent of moderates. A Rasmussen Reports survey also found that likely voters, by a majority of 55 percent, oppose giving healthcare to even the most low-income illegal aliens.

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