City Watch: Budget Input Solicited

Here’s a welcome bit of news from last night’s City Council meeting: Council seems disposed to open up the FY 2009 budget process more to public input. Watch for details in the coming month. Also, Herb Rubin reminded us that the city used to enjoy the counsel of a Financial Advisory Board. Perhaps we should consider reviving it in these difficult times.

We also discovered that the heretofore mysterious Rainy Day Fund is being wiped out as we type. After Mac McIntyre pointed out that it is, indeed, raining, and prevailed upon Council to utilize the fund for purposes of economic stimulation, Assistant City Manager Rudy Espiritu explained that about $2 million of the $3.6 million pot is plugging up gaping holes in the 2007 and 2008 budgets.

Um, what?! Could someone please explain to me what all the agonies over potential layoffs and the resulting retirements were about, then? What was saved by those measures, exactly?

Additionally, Alderman Simpson declared that DeKalb’s reserves are smaller than what other communities of comparable size have.

You know, in the first place I became upset about the budget crisis because it’s been clear for more than a year to persons in non-vegetative conditions that the housing market was traveling to a scary place and that the “jobless recovery” was not much of a recovery at all, based as it was on debt and speculation and investment in death. Is it too much to ask that the guys getting the big bucks to do the planning get a little proactive? Secondly, if there’s all this hoo-ha over the budget crisis and all this so-called action that still comes down to depending on our reserves, it seems to me that none of the tough decisions have been made. And the news about the reserves makes me feel…plundered.

Guess we’ll see what happens with FY 2009.

[Update: Budget workshop meetings open to resident input will be May 19, 20 & 21 at 5:30 p.m.]