D.C. Mayor Marion Barry has asked the City Council for authority to borrow a record $150 million from the U.S. Treasury to meet operating expenses of the city government over the next nine months.
Although the city routinely borrows from the federal government each year to cover slack periods of revenue collection, Barry's request this year is $10 million more than the total of borrowing approved last year.
City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers said the city actually would like to borrow some of the interest-free funds in January and possibly more in June, but wanted the authority from the council now "rather than go to the council two or three times" whenever the city needs cash-flow funds.
In a letter to the council Monday, Barry promised to notify the council whenever the city actually borrows against the $150 million. The council is expected to act on Barry's request Tuesday during its last session this year.
Barry, who borrowed $140 million from the Treasury last year, has been criticized by some council members for failing to reveal when the funds are borrowed, how they are spent or what amounts of interest are accumulated and spent by holding the money in city accounts.
The amount the city has borrowed under Barry has increased steadily each year, rising from $40 million in fiscal year 1979 -- which included part of former Mayor Walter Washington's term -- to $60 million in fiscal year 1980, $80 million in 1981 and $140 million last year.
Rogers said the city repaid the $140 million on Sept. 30. "As long as you pay the money back, it's routine," he said.