Kelly Bennett‘s on her way back from taping her first episode of KPBS’ Full Focus right now and she’s coming back with coffee. That might enable me to crank another couple of these out. Let’s see.

Right now we’re going to deal with some budget questions.

Reader CS asks a bunch of questions related to next year’s city budget, and I know exactly what she’s getting at. For a while now, I’ve been trying to measure the impending budget crunches that people say are coming next year. It’s been tough to calculate.

The rub: this year was actually going to be an easy budget year compared to next year. (I wrote a story outlining it earlier this year.)

After two years of not receiving raises, members of the white-collar employee union are scheduled to get an increase in fiscal year 2008, the last of its three-year contract negotiated with former Mayor Dick Murphy. So CS wants to know the current estimate of the impact of that raise.

Answer: $25 million to $30 million.

Also: What is the current estimate impact of the upcoming living wage ordinance on the 2008 budget?

Answer: No one seems to know.

The point is, officials expect next year’s budget to be much tougher than this year’s for a number of reasons. And they thought that before Mayor Jerry Sanders began embarking on a remediation program that will likely cost upwards of $100 million by the time all is said and done.

We should have a better idea come mid-November. That’s when the mayor’s set to release his five-year budget plan, which is being touted as the first real long-term, honest accounting of the city’s financial situation.

And, if it lives up to the hype, it will likely contain deep cuts in whatever the mayor decides aren’t core services. At that point residents will likely have to choose if they are willing to live with a smaller city government or willing to pay more in taxes.


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