We are being cautioned by the mayor and the city’s chief financial officer Eric Demas that 2019 will be a lean year to be followed by a year of plenty in 2020.
What is the city’s plan to meet this new challenge?
Keep spending taxpayer dollars without making substantial cuts to meet the possible deficit challenge.
Efforts by the city council to cut the 2019 budget – which stands at $232 million when we last looked – amounted so far to a total of $235,000.
That’s the cost of a nice new Mercedes, the expensive type the mayor prefers to drive.
The talk around city hall is that the city can’t afford the upcoming spending season before the casino has opened.
The talk is this – the city can’t afford the budget but the city can’t afford to cut the budget and besides, the city government is constitutionally unable to cut spending. This includes the mayor and Demas.
There is also the collective negative sigh among the mayor and Demas that the schools are going to need more money because of their perpetual overspending – even though it is the mayor and Demas who underfund the schools causing the appearance of overspending.
On the matter of school spending it has come to us that a member of the mayor’s blue ribbon finance panel looking into the city’s spending habits has apparently said that the schools are underfunded!
Back to the budget.
Some of us who budget our own spending from month to month or year to year find we are better off cutting our budgets when the money isn’t there and ramping up spending or new purchases when the money appears again in our bank accounts.
This is a simple, timeworn, proven strategy for avoiding temporary insolvency which can be more than a simple inconvenience.
Municipalities can sometimes not cut back even if they want to – and this is where we find the City of Everett today.
The mayor has expanded the city workforce and payroll, and especially his pay, dramatically during the past ten years – and the payroll and workforce continues to grow.
The mayor is not inclined to lay-off city employees, even if told by Demas that the city can’t afford the workforce at present levels into the coming fiscal year without some pain.
We doubt Demas would be so free with his economic thinking with his boss.
The mayor won’t lay-off city employees because they are the backbone of his political voting demographic.
They also do as he says or they are asked to leave.
Keeping employees the city can’t afford is cheaper for the mayor than letting 20% of the workforce go and saving tens of millions of dollars but at the same time having to endure all the families of those laid off hating him and impacting his chances for re-election.
The next best thing to being rich is acting rich – and so – during 2019 the city will act rich, somehow find the money to fully fund the schools and to meet its obligations.
A last thought – the $235,000 cut from the mayor’s budget by the city council is a joke.
The joke is on the taxpayers who will endure a healthy rise in their taxes in the coming year to fund the mayor’s dreams.