Good Financial News? Let's Fight About It!
Councilmembers went quickly through today's finance committee agenda - until Chairman John Cranley decided to highlight parts of the city manager's budget status report for 2007.
In the report, Milton Dohoney writes that the city's general fund ended the year with a carryover amount of $13.3 million, $4.8 million more than anticipated.
Sounds kinda like a good thing, huh? Cranley thought so: "There's a lot of good news in this report."
But Jeff Berding jumped in, saying the numbers showed the budget passed in December is "structurally unbalanced."
Chris Bortz agreed, reminding that he'd recognized the "structural imbalance" of the budget back in December before council passed it. He cited the inclusion of an estimated $1 million from red-light cameras tickets as one of the problems - an amount of money used to help balance the budget, yet no one really knows how much money, if any, such cameras might bring. The cameras, of course, were among the things Cranley added in to the budget.
Cranley took offense to any allegation that council had done something wrong in its budgeting: "Everything council did was budget-neutral."
Budget Director Joe Gray tried to explain that everybody was a little bit right. He said the budget was balanced, but that some of the carryover balance had to be used to make it so.
Read the documents here.