Thursday, January 22, 2009

Local Budget Deficits

The shortage of funds the city and county are facing will—as it always does—have an inordinate impact on the parks and open space areas, and that is another spur to consider other methods of funding our signature parks.

Signature parks, like the American River Parkway, have such a high profile and are enjoyed by so many people from way beyond the neighborhoods adjacent to them, that they are rather easily promoted as vehicles for philanthropic fund raising; and there are firms that specialize in this type of large-scale fund raising.

One of which is represented by the chair of our Endowment Advisory Group, William Schopfer, who is president of the local firm Fund Development Associates.

The option of forming a Joint Powers Authority, which we announced on yesterday’s blog is a good place to start.

An excerpt from the latest article about the city's deficit.

“Councilwoman Bonnie Pannell compared the city's budget crisis to a sinking boat.

“Councilman Rob Fong said the problems are "structural."

“Anyway you put it, the picture isn't pretty.

“At the very least, that picture came into a bit more focus Tuesday, when the city's finance director briefed the City Council on how severe the situation has become.

“The highlights: a $10.5 million shortfall in the current budget year, two departments that are overspending their budgets and the strong likelihood that more layoffs are coming.

"This is really bad and we need to figure out how to get out of this," said Councilwoman Lauren Hammond.

“Leyne Milstein, the city finance director, said several factors are contributing to the current fiscal year's shortfall.

“An estimated $9 million of the gap has been caused by a drop in city revenue, most of it from sales tax figures that are 11 percent below what city officials projected just last year.

“Another $3 million is due to the overspending of the Police and Fire departments.”