The city is considering its fourth temporary budget measure to fund the government through February in absence of an adopted budget. The latest temporary budget is for $23.27 million, according to municipal records.
Municipal officials have been funding the government through a series of temporary spending measures since the start of the 2018 fiscal year which began on July 1 of last year. Some council members have been warning the temporary measures will lead to much of the annual budget being depleted prior to the adoption of a final budget.
“I’ve said this repeatedly. When you approve an introduced budget number. And as you continue to move forward with these temporary appropriations you essentially end up being backed into that number whether or not you were comfortable with the number initially,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large, chairman of the finance committee.
Mayor Jane Williams-Warren introduced a $279.52 million budget that received approval from the council in November. Final adoption is still pending. Her budget increases the municipal portion to $155.22 from last year’s $151.37 million. It carries a 2.5-percent tax hike. Council members wanted the tax hike reduced or eliminated.
Morris told the administration to produce a layoff plan to avert a tax hike.
“This budget will result in a tax increase. There’s no question about it,” said Morris. He said his committee was presented with three budget scenarios last year. With the current level of spending the city will end up stepping into the scenario that had the highest tax increase.
Business administrator Nellie Pou said the city has no choice but to continue funding government through temporary measures. Councilman Luis Velez of the 5th Ward asked when the administration plans to present a final budget for adoption.
“We can’t do it until we have a transitional aid award,” replied Pou. The city is seeking $27 million in state aid. It received $25 million last fiscal year. Municipal officials said the city expects to receive an award number sometime next month.
“We’re going to be in a very bad position if we get $25 and not $27 million,” added Alex Mendez, councilman at-large.