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Strong mayor has led to increased accountability and millions in savings from mayoral actions to cut costs and restore the city’s credit rating, proponents of making the system of government permanent argue.

Not so fast, opponents say. City Councilwoman Donna Frye is arguing the system has cost the city millions in increased costs for the mayor’s staff. That’s in addition to the projected $1 million cost of adding a ninth City Council district in 2012, a figure Frye sued the city to reveal on the ballot statement.

Budgets tied to the Mayor’s Office have increased by an average of $1 million a year under strong mayor, Frye concluded from an analysis of city budgets.

Further, she said, just finding the mayor’s budget is more difficult now than it was under the previous council-manager form of government. In her calculation of the Mayor’s Office budget, Frye includes part of a department called “Community and Legislative Services,” which comprises Chief of Staff Kris Michell and Sanders’ spokespeople and policy advisors.

“The slant on it is the hidden costs of strong mayor that I don’t think people know and they should,” Frye said.

Frye was announcing her report at a noon press conference today at City Hall with Councilwoman Marti Emerald, also a strong mayor opponent, and members of community groups.

Those in favor of making strong mayor permanent have tried to rebut charges that the system costs more.

Councilmen Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer have advocated reducing the budgets of other council offices to make the new council district cost neutral to the city. And proponents also believe the city would spend significant dollars in new staffing costs if the strong mayor proposition failed forcing the city to revert to a council-manager system.

This just in: Faulconer and Taxpayers Association President/CEO Lani Lutar have scheduled a dueling press conference in the same location as Frye’s.

— LIAM DILLON

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