No ‘magic money’ for D.C. this quarter


Gandhi’s new numbers are the same as the old numbers. (The Washington Post)

“Magic money,” followers of the blog will know, is the additional city revenue often anticipated in projections released four times yearly by the chief financial officer. The District’s elected leaders have come to rely on these quarterly boosts to help ease the budgeting process.

This year, for instance, the D.C. Council obligated more than $130 million in additional spending should the city ending up taking in more money than it thought it would during the budgeting process. That makes tough cuts to things like homeless services, child care, home-purchase assistance and school librarians seem like not-quite-cuts.

Alas, Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi said in a letter to city officials that his revenue estimators see no reason to change the previous numbers, released in February.

Tax collections, Gandhi said, are mostly in line with the earlier forecasts. A drop in the number of large real estate transactions had meant a drop in deed recordation and transfer tax revenue, but that has been offset by growth in sales tax collections.

”The District’s economy remains in a holding pattern, caught between slowing on the federal side and very modest growth in the private sector,” Gandhi wrote. Given the threat of severe spending cutbacks, he added, the federal government “can no longer be counted on to be a source of growth.”

Revenue estimators will have another look in September.

Mike DeBonis covers Congress and national politics for The Washington Post. He previously covered D.C. politics and government from 2007 to 2015.
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