It is obvious to even the most casual reader that the FY2006 budget has been cobbled together - as have been the City budgets for the past ten or so years. The FY2006 budget, like all the earlier budgets, relies far too heavily on one-time revenue sources (grants, refinancing savings, deferred decisions), and far too lightly on traditional revenue growth.
While the tragedy of 9-11, the subsequent sluggish economy, and the skyrocketing costs of health care and pensions have all contributed significantly to the City’s current budgetary difficulties, it also obvious that we need to begin work on a plan to regularize the City’s underlying revenues.
There has been important momentum developed over the past four years.
Continuing to improve our neighborhoods, adding jobs, building new homes, gaining population, changing attitudes about the City’s place, improving educational choices, attracting new retail and entertainment venues - all these things will help our finances as our residential neighborhoods and business districts reclaim their value and generate tax revenue.
But, it is unlikely that we will change or build or improve enough to be a completely self-sufficient city in the next decade.
That’s why I have invited Comptroller Darlene Green, President Jim Shrewsbury, members of the Board of Aldermen, the City’s county officers, public safety officials, and representatives of the business community to work with me - and with the battalion of experts at our local educational institutions - to develop some new approaches to administration and governance that will put us on a firmer financial footing.
We will all have to be quick and smart to keep our City moving forward while our growth catches up to our responsibilities.