Councilwoman Shelley Midura has responded to Mayor Nagins recent press conferences announcing his changes including a citywide hiring freeze, a 2.5 percent budget cut to all city departments and line item vetoes of additional funding to the District Attorneys office and the public defenders office to the city budget the Council passed on December 1.
Heres what Midura has to say:
Budget projections indicate the City faces severe financial crises for the years 2010-2013. The budget as originally passed by the Council discounted the upwards of $25 million deficits facing the City from 2010-2013, which would peak at $51 million in 2012. The Mayors veto and accompanying cuts help reduce and push off the crisis for another year, but this financial crisis is not going away, and the City has to begin to live within its means. I am pleased that the millage increase is no longer on the table and that the Mayor has responded to the Councils budget proposal with cuts in expenditures rather than a millage increase to fill the budget gap. I am also pleased that the Mayor is proposing that the remaining $10 million of the CDL will not be tapped until 2010 and that the Citys reserves will be increased to a responsible 8%. Because of the future looming budget crises, I am inclined to support these measures.
Is this the path towards a balanced budget that I would have chosen? No it is not, but I appreciate the spirit of compromise being extended by the Mayor by abandoning the millage increase. Is this budget an improvement over the one currently proposed by the Council? I believe it is, with some caveats, especially in regards to concerns I have for criminal justice system funding. I would like to see some tweaks made to the Mayors new proposal, but I also believe it is a more fiscally responsible one than both his original proposal as well as the budget passed by the Council. What we cannot do is continue to reduce tax rates while increasing our spending. I am going to continue to advocate for fiscal discipline with our city budget, but it will require sacrifices and compromise from elected officials and citizens alike.