It's not that we want to, but we have to consider it, we're told.
Of course - doom and gloom, fear and scare tactics. Layoffs of personnel across the board instead of elimination of departments and functions that are unnecessary. If we don't threaten police and fire, we won't get the public's support for whatever taxes we may choose to raise...blah, blah, blah.
But here's the scariest part of the commentary on the additional $8.1 million budget deficit (on top of the $8 million they already addressed) from Bob Reinbolt, Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's chief of staff:
"He said the city's $6.4 million rainy-day fund would be applied to the 2008 deficit. Because $2 million of that was earmarked for the 2009 general-fund budget, the 2009 plan would need to be revised with more cuts, inflated revenue assumptions, or anticipated savings.
But even using the entire rainy-day fund would leave the city's 2008 budget $1.7 million in the red."(emphasis added)
I cannot believe they would even consider such a scheme, especially in times of increased unemployment, people leaving the city and business closings. What they're saying is that they may arbitrarily decide to just raise the estimated revenue in order to present a budget that is 'balanced' on paper.
Isn't that part of what got us into our current mess? I raised numerous challenges to the 2008 revenue estimates during the town hall meeting in my district, but despite a promise to 'get back to me,' none of my questions were answered. By June, revenue numbers were less than projected and it was evident the total budgeted income would never be achieved. Now we find our 2008 deficit is, currently, $16.1 million - with not enough reserves to fill the hole.
Similar questions have already been raised about the 2009 projected income - and the logic being considered by the people who lead this city is to just up those projections????
All that will do is put us in a worse condition at the end of this year, postponing the day of reckoning.
Toledo Councilman Joe McNamara is "shocked" over the lack of information to council. Well, I'm not on council and I could tell from the finance reports (public records distributed to council members in advance of finance committee meetings) that things were dire - all the way back in June. I also questioned why council would pass a 2009 budget without having the final numbers for 2008. Apparently, McNamara is a little slow on the uptake:
"Toledo Councilman Joe McNamara said it was deplorable that the mayor had kept council out of the loop. "I am utterly shocked the deficit is as bad as it is because this is something the administration should have told council as soon as they knew," he said. "It's a real crisis and … council should not have heard about it for the first time at a public meeting, and it would have perhaps affected some of the decisions made in the 2009 budget.""
To make matters worse, McNamara tries even harder to blame the mayor for his own lack of attention to the fiscal condition of the city:
"Mr. McNamara added, "It was unconscionable for the administration to allow council to pass the 2009 budget if they knew the 2008 deficit was so high.""
For the record, the administration doesn't 'allow' council to do anything when it comes to passage of legislation - but good try at deflecting blame, Joe.
Council must accept their responsibility in this fiscal debacle and they must be adamant in cutting spending - not by trying to placate everyone with across the board cuts, but by establishing priorities for mandated functions and eliminating non-mandated departments and tasks. I've talked with union leaders who say they're willing to make concessions because they understand the financial situation - but they have a hard time doing so when they see frivolous spending in other areas.
Carty could send a strong statement to everyone if he reduced his own office staff. Since 1993 when we had a city manager form of government, over 20 administrative staff have been added to the payroll. I cannot believe we need that many more people just because we switched to a strong-mayor form of government. Carty criticized 'patronage' hiring when he ran against former mayor Jack Ford. He should reduce his own staff and lead by example. If nothing else, it's a good start for finally bringing the city's expenditures in line with its actual (not hoped-for) revenue.