Mayor Marion Barry said yesterday that a wide ranging tax increase proposal unveiled earlier this week by City Council member John A. Wilson was ill-timed, and would not produce enough revenue to solve the city's financial problems.
"I'd like to commend Mr. Wilson on his courage, but I don't think the citizens of this town are ready to accept this tax package," Barry said at a District Building press conference.
The mayor said he would prefer to se the implementation of his own fiscal rescue plan, which involves seeking a $215 million loan from the Federal Financing Bank, an arm of the U.S. Treasury.
Barry announced the plan in July, and said yesterday that he will soon have legislation introduced in Congress that would authorize the loan.
Barry declined to reveal his own timetable for action, but insisted that Wilson's plan would be too slow in generating revenues to help the city out of its current crisis, which includes an accumulated budget deficit of $409 million.
Wilson's proposal, which would yield $217 million over the next five years, includes eliminating the D.C. income tax exemption for congressional and presidential aides, increasing liquor taxes, increasing the restuarant tax from 8 percent to 10 percent and imposing a new 2 percent tax on groceries.
Barry said Wilson's package would only produce around $6 million this year.
The city needs the $215 million as soon as possile to pay debts incurred during the previous fiscal year. He said that while the city is "in no danger of running out of money today," it is paying 1980 debts out of 1981 funds.
Barry also said that he had "great concern" about two specific parts of Wilson's package -- the tax on graoceries, and the increase in liquor taxes. The grocery tax would be hard on consumers already battered by inflation, Barry said, while raising liquor taxes might drive customers to suburban Maryland and Virginia.
Barry had these other comments and announcements during the 40-minute press conference:
He said that despite the loss of 1,003 senior employes throughout the government this year to an early-out retirement plan, there have been "no major disruptions of service." Barry said the early-out program was successful in reducing the number of layoffs required last year to help balance the budget, and added, "By and large, the impact hasn't been that great" on government operations.
Barry urged all area workers to treat today as a holiday and join events scheduled to commemorate the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
He announced that the city will grant $78,000 to the "College Here We Come" program -- an organization centered in far northeast that helps youths who live in public housing apply to colleges. The group already ahs counseled more than 300 youths, according to its founder, organizer Kimi Gray.