San Francisco’s alarmingly high expenses

We recently analyzed the comprehensive annual financial reports (CAFRs) of the 75 most populous cities so you don’t have to, and the City of San Francisco released some pretty interesting results.

Between 2016 and 2017, San Francisco’s net revenue dropped by more than 126%. Net revenue (change in net position) is calculated by subtracting the total net expenses from the total general revenues; it’s the sum of assets leftover after paying all expenses.

San Francisco’s net position is so poor primarily due to the huge jump in net expenses between 2016 and 2017 with an increase of more than 92%. That’s over $4.86 billion in net expenses, higher than any city in California, and almost 3 times higher than the national average of $1.7 billion.

This jump in spending can be explained by, primarily, the 25% increase in health and human service expenses. This category includes public health administration, environmental health, welfare programs, and most importantly, sewage treatment. Sanitation is a major concern for the Golden Gate City; needles and human waste on the streets have increased steadily since 2008, and the city recently even spent $300,000 on trash can sensors that alert public officials when overflowing occurs.

With a Taxpayer Burden of -$22,600, this huge increase in net expenses is no doubt a bad sign for the fiscal health of the city.


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