Jack Evans Report: Questions on the Budget Proposal
I wrote in my last column about the mayor’s budget proposal and several of my ongoing priorities, such as public safety, affordable housing, tax policy and funding for the arts. I am also very interested in supporting our transition to a new chief financial officer this year.
Before the budget proposal was released, we undertook the performance oversight process. In an effort to inform the initial budget proposal, I sent a number of questions to the agencies under my purview to determine what is working and what is not. With the proposal in hand, I recently sent another round of questions to all the agencies. These were specific questions arising from the proposal itself.
The largest agency falling within the oversight framework of my committee is the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. This agency includes a number of component offices: Tax and Revenue, Finance and Treasury and Revenue Analysis, to name a few. Some of the questions I will ask of this agency are higher profile, such as how the Office of Tax and Revenue will administer a real property tax lien sale this year, given that the initial budget proposal would not fund my reform legislation until the fall.
Since the tax sale is typically held in July, I will be working closely with the CFO and my colleagues to implement as much reform as possible prior to any sale held this year. I will also closely oversee the sale itself to make sure that our residents in need are not treated unfairly.
Some of the questions are more technical in nature, such as whether the budget is in fact structurally balanced. As you may know, the District is required to prepare a four-year balanced budget annually. For those of you who review our budget online, you can see on pages 2-8 and 2-9 of the introduction that $100 million of the 2014 surplus is being shifted to 2015 to make that year’s budget balance. Further, fiscal year 2016 is balanced on the assumption that certain efficiency savings will be realized.
I am all for efficiency, but after witnessing our government pass the largest budget in the city’s history each successive year – despite the financial downturn – it is hard for me to believe that these savings will come to pass. Thanks for your engagement in this process, and please don’t forget to reach out to me and my colleagues with any feedback you have on the budget.