The current paper analyzes the budget of San Francisco city which is located in California. It includes three parts of analysis including trends of revenue sources for the last three years and their impact on the budget, ethical practices of the financial policy, and opportunities and challenges of revenue sources.
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Trends of Revenues Sources and its Impact on Government Budget
The primary revenue sources of San Francisco are classified into two broad categories, namely, Program Revenues and General Revenues. Charges for services and operating grants and contributions are two significant sources under the Program Revenues category. On the other hand, property and business taxes are the prime sources under the General Revenues category.
According to the reports published on the state’s website, operating grants and contributions from governmental activities amounted to $1,165 million and $1,289 million in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Moreover, they were $191 million and $199 million from business-type activities in 2015 and 2016 respectively (“Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports,” 2018). There was an increase of over $100 million in operating grants and contributions between 2015 and 2016. In the year 2017, grants and contributions further increased to $1,533 million consisting of $1.263 million from governmental activities and the remaining $270 million from business-type activities (“Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports,” 2018). The revenue generated from charges for services from governmental activities was $612 million in 2015 and rose to $777 million in 2016. On the other hand, business-type activities contributed $3,134 million in 2015 and $3,230 million in 2016 to the revenue of the city (“Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports,” 2018). In the year 2017, the revenue from charges for services from governmental activities decreased by over $100 million to $646 million. However, it increased to $3,341 million from business-type activities and collectively, reduced by 0.5% in that year (“Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports,” 2018).
In general revenues, property taxes showed a consistent increase from $1,640 million in 2015 to $1,808 million in 2016 and then reached $1,951 million in 2017 (“Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports,” 2018). Alternatively, the revenue increased by around 10% during 2015-16 and 8% during 2016-17. Similarly, an upward trend is evident in the government’s collection of business taxes. It accumulated $611 million in 2015, $660 million in 2016, and $702 million in 2017 in respect of business taxes (“Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports,” 2018). The report also states that the reason for the increase in business taxes was the increase in the business registration fee levels together with an increase in the gross receipts of taxes.
The city’s revenue exceeded its expenditures in 2015 as the sum of all revenue sources accumulated to a total of $9,242 million and the total of the city’s expenditures was $7,786 million resulting in a surplus of $1,455 million in 2015 (“Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports,” 2018). The year 2016 also had a surplus of $1,450 million as the city generated $9,875 million in revenue and had cumulative expenditures of $8,425 million. However, in the year 2017, a deficit of $393 million was recorded owing to an unlikely increase in the expenditures to $10,750 million as compared to the total revenue of $10,357 million (“Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports,” 2018).
Ethical Practices of Financial Policy on Taxes, Fees, and Charges
The 2017 report highlights that the increase in property tax collections was primarily because of the regular annual tax and escape tax collections related to the higher estimated values of secured and unsecured real properties in San Francisco. Tax collector offices also improved tax collection methods including in-person, mail, and online payments allowing them to collect $241 million by making tax payments convenient for taxpayers (Cisneros, 2018). The decrease in total charges for services at the Department of Public Health, inclusionary housing fees, and community impact fees evidence a public-centered financial policy that reduced administration fees.
Internal/External Opportunities and Challenges of Revenue Sources
As is the case with many cities, the wealthy have increasingly avoided tax contributions at both state and local levels making it difficult for the authorities to run and maintain the city effectively. In 2016, the Controller’s Office forecasted a 10% increase in the revenue over the four years, but it is worth noting that the city’s expenditures were expected to grow by 25% over the same period (“San Francisco FY2016-17 & FY2017-18 budget deficit,” 2016). The higher growth rate of expenditures could impose a critical challenge for the maintenance and management of the city and also the welfare of its residents.
Secondary/non-primary residence homes in San Francisco are available in a considerable number, which drive-up property prices and contributes very little to the economy of the city. According to a report in 2014, the non-primary residence had risen by 60% since 2005 and constituted almost 30% (9,307 units) of the total empty houses in the city (“Pieds-A-Terre: The scale of the problem,” 2017). The application of the “pied-a-terre” tax to properties in San Francisco can bring a substantial increase in the overall revenue allowing the government to make it an ideal welfare city.
Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). (2018). Web.
Pieds-A-Terre: The scale of the problem. (2017). Web.
San Francisco FY2016-17 & FY2017-18 budget deficit (2016). Web.