City budget update


Since I seem to be getting a fair amount of traffic because of the rain, I’ll go ahead and give a much needed update of the city budget.

If I learned anything yesterday from my meeting with Mayor Dave’s communications director, Rachel Stauch-Nelson, and his budget director, Andrew Statz, it’s that I really had no idea what I was talking about in my last post on the matter. While it is a sin of the highest degree to take for granted anything a politician’s staffer tells you, there were nevertheless several hard facts that stuck out in my conversation with the two.

First off, unless I am missing something here (a strong possibility), there seems to be a disparity between the numbers the city comptroller, Dean Brasso, is citing, and those the mayor’s office is pushing. According to Brasso, the city will have to increase spending 5.7 percent to maintain current services. The mayor’s office, both in person and in the brochure I’m looking at, claims that spending would have to increase $21 million, which would spur a tax increase of 11.3 percent on the average home. Is Brasso making his estimate based on the assumption that the city will make the six percent cuts that the mayor is proposing?

Crime is down, despite the recession, and the mayor is adamant about avoiding police or fire layoffs. However, I can’t help but look back at the article Sam Clegg wrote on the matter a year ago, before the recession:

And even though an increase of 30 new police officers added an extra $1.5 million to the budget — the largest spending increase — Mayor Dave Cieslewicz refuses to consider cutting back on this part of the budget, leaving social services in the fiscal crosshairs.

And of course, it wasn’t all or nothing. There was a push for a plan that would have added 18 cops, with stipulations that the city wait to see if it had the money to add more later on.

The process in the next months should be interesting. As Rachel continually emphasized yesterday, the mayor is not demanding a six percent across the board cut. That’s what he is hoping for – meaning every department will submit a list of cost-cutting measures and the mayor will evaluate their importance and see what gets the ax. So it is less similar to the state budget than I thought. In the state budget, practically every department (except corrections) was given a five percent ultimatum.

After the inevitable corrections to this post, I will discuss the matter more in the upcoming week.


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2 Responses to “City budget update”

  1. Brenda Konkel Says:

    Ok – I’ll start. It is Brasser, not Brasso . . . 🙂

    Interesting discrepancy you cite. But it is possible that a 5.3% increase in spending could be an 11.3 percent increase in taxes because of where the funding comes from. Likely, things we used to get state and federal funding for are increasing in expense as the funding remains flat or decreases or doesn’t support our increased expenses. There are likely other explanations as well. Where’d you get that number from?

    • The Sconz Says:

      I don’t know where Brasso came from…there must be somebody out there I was thinking of.

      Regardless of the mayor’s statement on tax increases, his “budget presentation” packet, which is what his office gave me, claims that spending will have to increase by $21 million, which is more than 10% of the current budget, correct?

      He follows that up by saying that if we don’t make any cuts, then we’ll have to raise taxes on the avg home by 11.3%.

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