'Squishy Numbers' Be Damned, Controller to Give Mayor City's Financial Report Today

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While it remains to be seen how much the state will be taking from San Francisco, the controller's office will issue a report today
Can you see Gavin Newsom as a game show host? He's got the hair, he's telegenic, and if we sweet-talk Gene Rayburn's relatives, maybe he can even get the long microphone.

Between internecine struggles and, now, the looming question of just how much the state will whisk away from the County of San Francisco, this year's budget battle really has resembled an old edition of Let's Make a Deal (with many more zeroes on the "prizes"). Do we sign a budget? Or take what's behind Door No. 1?

Just what awaits us behind that door will become a little clearer today when the city controller's office releases its report analyzing what the state's large print giveth and small print taketh away. Per changes introduced in the city's budgeting process just last month by Supervisor John Avalos, the controller is mandated to pen such a report within a week of the state ratifying its budget. Deputy controller Monique Zmuda told us a "short" report will be made public by the end of today, despite some "squishy numbers."

When someone who calmly tabulates massive figures for a living uses a term like "squishy numbers" it catches your attention; it's akin to the doctor saying, "Show me your ass." When asked to explain, Zmuda noted that the state hasn't yet made clear to the city just how big a cut we're facing in the health and welfare department and sheriff's department. Zmuda declined to state exactly how much of an uncertainty we're talking about here, but did say it was "millions" as opposed to tens of millions. Well, that's reassuring.

Today "We will issue a report tentatively saying what we know now," she said. In perhaps a month the state departments will cruch their own numbers and determine if what we know now is now no longer worth knowing.

At that point, the mayor will have 21 days to re-jigger the city budget. After he does so, the Board of Supervisors will have 45 more days to re-re-jigger that budget.

So what we do know is this: The one certainty is that it'd be wise to budget lots of time to craft the city's eventual budget. Because while time may be money, it seems we have access to a bit more of the former than the latter.
 
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