The actions that the mayor has proposed to address the budgetary dilemma currently facing the District government are indeed evidence that he perceives a crisis. The fact remains, however, that no one outside the executive branch has sufficient information to establish 1) the existence of a deficit, 2) the size of such a deficit, 3) the causes of such a deficit and 4) its implications for the remainder of this fiscal year and beyond.
Moreover, it is my understanding that attempts by members of the legislative branch and its staff to obtain information that would allow the council to make an analysis of the deficit have not been adequately addressed.
In view of this, the council is in a position neither to endorse nor to repudiate the mayor's proposition that the deficit is $92.6 million, nor are we in a position to ratify Mr. Barry's proposed remedies to his deficit.
However, I believe the proposal to cut agency budgets to approximately the same level as the mayor proposes to increase taxes would leave the city with a perilously balanced budget.
The mayor's revised financial plan calls for a closing cash balance of $192,000. If the mayor's local revenue projections are off by even 1 percent, the resulting shortfall would be over $10 million. Since we have no way of knowing whether the real deficit is what the mayor says it is, we can only assume that the city will continue to be vulnerable to future deficits caused not only by lost court cases and failed revenue opportunities, but by marginal financial controls and overspending because of agency mismanagement.
It would appear that further cuts should be made in agency budgets. To the extent possible, these cuts should be made on a selective basis, so that all agencies do not suffer unreasonable reductions. The council must determine program priorities rather than shortchange all governmental programs. d
Tax incrreases with questionable revenue potential would be felt deeply in a city that is on the upswing in encouraging businesses and jobs to locate here. We are trying to help people, especially the young, to purchase homes. If we increase the deed recordation tax, it would require that new home buyers have more up-front money to secure mortgages.
The mayor's request for a supplemental appropriation from Congress is based on the remaining portion of the federal payment left unappropriated by Congress when it passed the fiscal year 1980 budget. I support the mayor unequivocally in this endeavor. This money is owed to the District and every attempt should be made to achieve a full payment for the services, the lost rent and the amenities the District offers the federal government.
Congress need not worry that the District will turn to it to "bail us out" of our problems. The executive and the legislative branches of the District government will work together to meet this problem. I believe Congress will be supportive of our efforts. The supplemental request should be a priority in both the House and Senate District appropriations subcommittees.
Inflationary pressures affect everyone, including city governments. The times demand that city officials consider the long-range implications of continued reliance upon the city government to provide a multitude of services.