Monday, July 27, 2009

DC Budget Shortfall

I know I'm late to the blogging party regarding Mayor Fenty's plan to address the budget shortfall. Part of my delay is due to me actually sitting down to read the Proposed FY 2010 budget. Don't let the 173 page Executive Summary scare you. I'll try to digest the information for you. I will admit upfront that this is my biased opinion.

Let me start by saying the first part of the budget is wasted pages of stuff at the beginning of the Executive Summary. I'm just saying. It's 20 pages of charts and lists, such as an organization chart of DC, a list of the Mayor and his cabinet, a list of the Councilmembers, a list of the people in OMB, etc. I mean if we cut out the pomp and circumstance would could probably save money off the bat. But I digress...

As reported in the news, there is a proposed cut of 1,300 or 1900 (yeah the numbers don't quite add up... I'm sure there is an explanation, but it wasn't clear to me) plus jobs from DC government. I took a closer look at where Mr. Mayor was cutting the fat. My comments in parenthesis.
  • Attorney Generals Office is getting 39 new FTEs over FY 2009. (Interesting. Now maybe they can keep the repeat offenders in my neighborhood off the streets.)
  • Disappointed to see DCRA losing 48 employees. (Based on my interactions with DC gov't, they are the most responsive and efficient.)
  • Public Education was interesting. There is only 1 net loss of employees. HOWEVER, when you look closer... closer... even closer... they are losing 238 from DC Public Schools due to "downsizing due to fewer students" (their words, not mind) and yet they are increasing special education transportation by 424 due to "corrected count to staff new buses". (I don't have the statistics, but I refuse to believe that there are that many special education students in DC... but... I could be wrong... who knows.)
  • Child and Family Services is losing 48 people. Some of those positions are noted as vacant and other are going to be employees transferring to other departments. (Um... isn't this the same agency that oversaw the case with the mother who killed her four girls.)
  • Parks and Recreation is taking a nasty little hit. 232 jobs mostly in child care which will be outsourced to other providers. (I have very strong opinions of DPR.... and they aren't positive. I'll just leave it at that)
  • University of DC is gaining 17 FTEs... (kudos to them)
  • Office of the Mayor experienced no job cuts (I guess cutting the Mayor's FTE is out of the question... LOL)

There are clearly cuts from other Departments, but those are the ones that caught my little eye. Unless I missed something, in which case shame on the DC government for making a budget that the public can't understand.

  • City is projecting a decrease in sales tax revenues from FY 2008, but a slight increase from FY 2009 (maybe if we were leaking retail sales to other jurisdictions we could get this number up. I know we are in a recession and all, but I know a lot of people who haven't changed their spending habits)
  • They project an increase of almost $200 million in sales between FY 2010 and FY 2011.
General Commentary
  • The budget needs a 5-10 page fact sheet. It was a lot of "stuff" to wade through. I'm all for a transparent government, but can I get a cheat sheet. As a resident I want to know, what are you proposing, what does it mean for government operations and how does it affect me as a resident.
  • DC has too many agencies. I was reading through the individual agency changes and it appears to me there is a lot of overlap between the missions of some agencies. I think some of them can be consolidated. It sure makes getting work done a lot easier when you have less departments to coordinate.
  • ANCs operating budget is $1 million. I'm sure there are very active ANCs, but as far as what I've seen in my neck of the woods it's a waste of money. I haven't heard anything from my ANC. I have to keep looking up their name, because I keep forgetting who they are.

Buy Wards 7 & 8 Challenge

  • $35 at Exxon on Penn and Branch Ave (I need a hybrid...yesh)
  • $21 in Alexandria for lunch

Total $467 in Wards 7/8. $574 total (81% in Wards 7/8)

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