Tuesday, April 27, 2010

You'd Leave Your Pocketbook In San Francisco

At one time, it was possible to leave your heart in San Francisco. If it were legal, the city would now try to tax it too. San Francisco is among the most heavily taxed jurisdictions in the country and all that money has to go somewhere.

That somewhere happens to be exceedingly well-compensated city workers. The average salary for city workers is nearly $100,000. It's $93,000 before counting benefits and one in three workers makes more than $100,000. If that isn't bad enough, it's outstripping the private sector average pay by a wide margin, which is why the city faces deficits and the need to impose still more taxes.
He pointed to state Employment Development Department data that show city workers on average earn 20 percent more than those in the private sector in San Francisco.

In addition, Falk said, city workers "have significantly better health and pension benefits" that continue to be the biggest cost driver threatening city services. That needs to be reformed, he said.

Many of the highest-earning city employees - including engineers, doctors and attorneys - are paid comparably to their counterparts in the private sector or can help make up for earning less pay with better benefits.

"City government is becomingly increasingly technical and more sophisticated, and you have to pay for the talent," said Bob Muscat, head of Professional and Technical Engineers Local 21.
Salary increases accelerated due to efforts to get the city workers to pay a portion of their salaries towards their benefits and pensions.

It is an out of control situation that requires a reevaluation of the costs and operation of the city government because it simply can't support government operations on a tax base already groaning under a heavy tax burden. Mayor Newsome got furlough days passed, which cuts salaries by 4.6%, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the workforce costs to the city.

Expect to see still more taxes and fees paid on travelers who come to San Francisco to see the sights - whether it is rental care fees (a popular move across the country) or hotel taxes and fees.

Yet, at the end of the day, San Francisco has a more expensive government than it can afford. The hard choices in what needs to be cut has to be made, or else the taxpayers get hit up yet again.

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