The Morning Report
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Tax revenues are expected to fall by nearly $23 million below the estimates included in the mayor’s budget released last month, city officials said today.
The city’s chief operating officer, Jay Goldstone, said the city was expecting revenues to fall for the budget year starting July 1 because of lower property, hotel and property-transfer tax revenue. The biggest factor is property tax revenue, which is expected to fall by nearly $17 million over what was included in the mayor’s initial budget, according to an overview of the budget proposal. The details of the spending plan are expected later today.
In addition, Goldstone said the state is likely to borrow property tax money from cities to balance its own budget. The hit to the city could be as much as $36 million, though that assumption isn’t built into the revised spending proposal.
Taken together, the possibility of a state raid and lower tax revenues would effectively double the $60 million budget gap that the mayor had proposed balancing last month with a combination of labor concessions, fee increases and tapping of reserve accounts. The City Council in the fall also closed $43 million midyear budget gap through a combination of cuts and drawing from reserves.
However, Mayor Jerry Sanders’ office is expecting increased revenue from the tobacco settlement and transfers from other funds for the upcoming fiscal year.
Sanders’ administration plans to balance the budget through measures such as reducing stormwater spending by $6.4 million and budgeting an additional $2.5 million in savings because of expected police vacancies, according to a presentation that was slated to be heard at a City Council meeting this afternoon. The mayor is proposing about $700,000 be added into the budget for new fire and police positions.
Council members voted to delay the budget presentation until June 3 because they haven’t received a copy of the revised spending plan. Councilman Carl DeMaio said city officials weren’t following the proper process by not providing a copy of the budget to council members in advance.
“This has got to stop,” he said. “This has absolutely got to stop.”
Goldstone and Chief Financial Officer Mary Lewis said the budget’s release was delayed by last-minute revisions to the budget.
For more information, read my story from last week previewing the growing budget gap and our ongoing coverage of the city’s budget crisis.