San Francisco Budget Challenge

Welcome to the City and County of San Francisco's Budget Challenge. This website is a tool that aims to help people learn about the City's budget by enabling residents to balance the City's upcoming Fiscal Year (FY) 2016-17 and FY 2017-18 budget.

We invite you to send the Mayor's Budget Office a message through the site with your thoughts and input on this year's budget.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about the City's budget! 


In March 2016, the Mayor’s Office, along with the Controller’s Office and the Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Legislative Analyst, published a four year projection of the City’s financial condition. This projection reveals deficits of $86 million in FY 2016-17 and $161 million in FY 2017-18, a total deficit of approximately $246.4 million over the next two years.

We realize that it can be hard to understand how the City faces a projected deficit when it seems that the economy is faring so well; unemployment is down, property values are up, there are cranes and construction all over the city – doesn’t that mean the City’s coffers should be full?

The City’s revenues are indeed quite strong – the Controller’s Office projects revenue growth of approximately 10 percent over the next four years. However, the City’s expenditures are projected to grow by almost 25 percent over the same period. This represents the challenge that we face—revenues need to grow even more or expenditures need to be reduced in order to bring the budget into balance.

What Is A Balanced Budget?

Simply put, a balanced budget means that the City cannot spend more money in a given fiscal year than it anticipates receiving in that fiscal year. In other words, the sources of funds must cover the uses of funds. In this manner, our local government is critically different from the federal government, which is allowed to run an operating deficit and spend more money than it brings in. The City and County of San Francisco is mandated to balance its budget every year, now is your opportunity to take the challenge!