Cities are the last place to recover from a recession.
Unlike national governments, town halls have a slim margin for debt. Most cities are required to pass a balanced budget for FY2011, which begins in October. A few cities must close a deficit for the current year.
The only option is total war on the budget.
City hall must take on the unions and special interests, while the mayor cuts into his own budget and eliminates hundreds of jobs.
Budget bloodshed is flowing across the country. From frightening to terrifying, here’s…
Deficit through FY2011: $30,000,000
per capita: $20
A $30 million deficit wouldn't look so bad if San Diego had not just filled a $179 million hole.
Three months ago, the mayor dipped into reserves, cut services, and axed 200 jobs to cancel the last deficit. Now he will pursue options like renegotiating contracts with private vendors and reducing the budget for replacing city-owned vehicles, according to Union Tribune.
Deficit through FY2011: $26,000,000
per capita: $110
City Manager Regina Williams has whittled down a deficit of up to $46 million (including $10 million in current-year shortfall) in a few months. But the rest of the way is an uphill fight. City departments have dismissed her request for 20% budget reductions. Schools are asking for a $6 million budget increase. Someone's getting disappointed in the April 20 proposal.
Deficit through FY2011: $116,000,000
per capita: $120
San Jose's city managers released a draconian budget proposal, which eliminates almost 900 jobs and cuts back heavily on services. Seven out of nine city pools are getting the axe this summer.
But for the budget to pass, the mayor must get unions to accept a 10% wage and benefit cut. 'We've got 11 unions we have to bargain with and so far we have no proposals for concessions,' Reed said.
Deficit through FY2011: $79,700,000
per capita: $140
The mayor plans to take $53 million from a rainy day fund, which will leave fund at 10 per cent full. The depleted reserves would give the city about five weeks of cash flow in case of an emergency, said city manager Betsy Fretwell.
Goodman's proposal includes 8% salary cuts across the board and a $30 million renegotiation with the unions. But the latter won't be easy: The unions are offering only 10.
Deficit through FY2011: $241,000,000
per capita: $150
Gordon PASSED a balanced FY2011 budget, but the locals are not happy. Thousands are signing a petition to protest a 2% tax on groceries -- even though the tax will keep hundreds of police and firefighter jobs from being eliminated.
The city is still cutting 520 jobs, forcing 3.2% pay cuts on union members, and cutting $64 million out of services. Police jobs getting the axe include special forces -- the Violent Criminal Syndicate Crime Suppression Unit and the Career Criminals Squad -- that police say are battling Arizona gangs, neo-Nazi, and career criminals.
Deficit through FY2011: $35,200,000 (INCLUDING $5.2 million current-year deficit)
per capita: $160
Another deficit that keeps getting worse. Reno's $15 million deficit surged to $35 million due to below-estimate tax receipts.
The mayor was prepared to cut all 150 jobs and all department budgets at 7-12%. Facing the new deficit, he may have to increase budget cuts, fire 300, and 'restructure management,' according to RGJ.
As for the current year deficit, city council meets today to authorise dozens of layoffs.
Deficit through FY2011: $520,000,000
per capita: $180
Chicago's deficit would be MUCH higher if not for a one-time fix. The mayor pocketed $1.15 billion last year for privatizing parking meters, and will use up most of the windfall payment in several years.
Daley hasn't proposed a budget yet, but he has ordered a general hiring and spending freeze. Expect another dose of heavy furloughs. This year, the mayor is already going 29 days without pay.
Public schools -- which most cities fund separately -- are another story, and have deficits approaching $1 billion.
Deficit through FY2011: $121,000,000
per capita: $190
Rawlings-Blake has admitted her latest proposal is unacceptable: 'Let me be clear: some of the cuts we would be forced to make are unacceptable and simply go too far, especially cuts to Police, Fire, Recreation, and infrastructure.' She promised to release another proposal this month that will include revenue increases.
In the latest proposal, Baltimore will eliminate marine, helicopter, and mounted units from the police force; knock out 900 city jobs; close 29 recreation centres; decrease hours at 311 call centres; and end the Fourth of July firework display.
Deficit through FY2011: $140,000,000
per capita: $370
Hannemann is sticking it to the Honolulu residents who don't vote: renters. The Mayor's proposal for 2011 includes a controversial rental tax hike and tax hikes and frugality across the board, with two-day-a-month furloughs for government workers.
Deficit through FY2011: $4,900,000,000
per capita: $590
At least Bloomberg is proactive. The mayor began drastic agency cuts in 2009, pocketing a nice $2.9 billion surplus, to prepare for the incredible deficit in 2011.
Next step is another $1.6 billion cuts from city agencies. That means eliminating four swimming pools, a homeless centre, fire alarm boxes (to stop hoax calls), according to the Economist. He's also cutting 4,286 jobs.
Deficit through FY2011: $483,000,000
per capita: $600
San Francisco is extremely liberal. That's the only explanation for how the city can run a deficit every year in the past decade and not set off widespread panic. As for the mayor, he would rather please all his constituents and then get out of dodge, next year, when he runs for lieutenant governor
But with a deficit soaring to $787 million by 2012, the young mayor may finally confront the budget. 'We've go to make the tough choices this year,' Newsom told the Chronicle. 'It's so easy to kick the can down the road ... but for every delayed decision, we will pay the price year after year.' Newsome's budget plan includes seizing half of a $25 million reserve fund -- the maximum allowed -- and save $100 million through extensive furloughs. Job cuts are likely and pension cuts will be on a June ballot.
UPDATE: Fridays March tax revenues came in $30 million higher than expected, making the gap slightly smaller.
per capita: $180
Facing a $212 million deficit for this year, Villaraigosa threatened closing city departments that don't make money for two days a week for the rest of the year. The mayor backed down within days and admitted he doesn't have the power to close anything without city council's approval. Therefore he's back at the hell's bargaining table, with a council that won't allow an electricity rate hike and a power utility that won't hand over $73 million until the rates go up. If neither side gives in, LA faces the threat of insolvency.
As for next year's $485 million gap, Villaraigosa wants to cut 4,000 city jobs, but there's another paradox here. City councilmen worry whether the city could function after such a cut, 'even if we were to do a 24-7 operation with three shifts and pull every person in.' But others worry that 4,000 won't be enough to balance the budget, according to myFOXla.
per capita: $780
Bing drops his budget proposal next week. To keep Detroit out of bankruptcy or state receivership, the Mayor plans to bulldoze vast neighborhoods of derelict homes, which will cut down the cost of services. Other solutions for the disasters include eviscerating city pensions, letting the private sector compete for trash and other services, and merging services with the county government -- all suggested by The Detroit News.
Deficit through FY2011: $70,300,000 (INCLUDES $68.7 million current-year deficit)
per capita: $1,500
Blame it on a horrible FY2010 budget. Harrisburg missed an April 1 loan payment to the operator of a local trash incinerator. Bankruptcy is possible, though the city is close to reaching a 90-day reprieve with Covanta Holding Corp. Next step may be the sale of city assets.
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