D.C. government officials, who at one time counted on raising $26.1 million in lottery revenues this year to help balance the fiscal 1983 budget, now say that those revenues will fall short by as much as $9 million.
Budget Director Elizabeth (Betsy) Reveal said yesterday that the troublesome revenue shortfall stems from a lag in the sale of tickets for the city's current "Loose Change" instant lottery game and a controversial delay in the awarding of a contract to begin a new daily numbers game.
Reveal suggested that the aggressive advertising campaign of the Maryland state lottery games "may be siphoning off some of the sales" in the District.
"That shortfall is such a small percentage of the city's total revenues that I'm not worried," said Reveal, who is coordinating efforts to avert a deficit in the city's operating budget this year. "If twice that amount were persisting into the fourth quarter, then I'd say we had a problem."
Barry, who recently declared that the city's latest budget crisis was under control, acknowledged at his monthly press conference yesterday that lottery revenues may be off. However, he declined to be more specific until after he sends a May revenue statement to the City Council.
"I have to look at that in the context of our overall revenue," Barry said. "I'm going to balance my 1983 revenue and I'm going to balance it as I've done for the last two years."
The mayor was again questioned by reporters about his role in persuading the D.C. Lottery Board to rescind its selection of Lottery Technology Enterprises to run the new numbers game and to invite new bid offers.
The delay cost the city at least $2.8 million of the projected $9 million shortfall in lottery revenue and raised concern that Barry may have intervened to help political allies who are affiliated with other firms that are seeking the contract.
Barry said he intervened because the lottery board ignored the city's best legal advice and didn't follow acceptable contracting procedures.
"Of course I'm concerned about each day's delay," he said. "But also I'm concerned that the rules of the game don't change every day--that every agency of government is required to follow the rules of procedures for contracting."
The mayor added, "Since I've been in public office, there's been not one ounce of evidence that I'm a dishonest person, that I don't have integrity, or that I don't uphold the law. I think the general public understands that I'm not tampering with the process."
Meanwhile, the Lottery Board yesterday put the finishing touches on its new bid request--a document that was criticized yesterday by officials of both firms that lost the first round of bidding as being tailor-made for Lottery Technology, the first-round winner.
Officials of both losing firms have also complained about the board's deadline of next Wednesday for submission of new bids, saying they need more time.
During his press conference, Barry also expressed regret over the resignation this week of Dr. James L. Luke, the District's $55,900-a-year chief medical examiner, who complained that he no longer could recruit or hold experienced staff members because of inadequate funding and salary levels.
"He's been indicating a desire to figure out a way to up his salary as well as the salary of other medical people," Barry said. "As you know, we're limited by law as to what we can pay D.C. government personnel. I personally think that it's too low."
City Administrator Elijah B. Rogers, who has resigned effective May 27 to take a higher-paying job with an accounting firm, said the city has had difficulty filling posts in the Departments of Human Services, Transportation and Environmental Services because of uncompetitive salary levels.
"If you live in Washington and you've made the adjustment to the high cost of living, that's one thing," Rogers said. "But to bring someone here from outside the metro area, that's difficult."