As the City Council prepares to vote on next year's budget, north side Councilwoman Elisa Chan says the proposed budget spends a lot more than it takes in and places the city's vaunted Triple-A bond rating, which city officials brag about at every opportunity, into jeopardy, 1200 WOAI news reports.
Chan says the city will take in 2.4% more money in Fiscal Year 2014, but will up spending by 3.5%, much of it on pet projects designed to benefit buddies of council members.
For example, Chan says the city is shifting $200,000 from the road fund to pay for a loan for AVANCE, a private organization which has long been a political favorite of council members, so the group can restore a warehouse which is not a city owned building.
"The city's fund balance has decreased over the past few years," Chan said. "Moody's bond rating agency has warned the City that if the City continues to drop the fund balance, it is likely that our bond rating will be downgraded to Double-A."
Chan says the budget is also packed with fees, which are actually hidden taxes paid by both residents and visitors.
"A great example is the proposed $1 Park Environmental Fee which will be added to all CPS Energy bills. In reality, parks' maintenance will only receive about 78 cents of that find, with the rest diverted to other uses.
She says pet adoption fees, downtown parking fees, and other fees will also be jacked up to pay for council pet projects. She says fees will also be going up for EMS transport, solid waste collection, and library services.
Chan says the city is dealing with a projected $50 million deficit by making cuts in several areas. She says the Police Department will make reductions in its Crime Scene Unit, Alarms Office, and Strategic Planning Office. Five maintenance positions are being eliminated at the airport, Capital Improvements Management Services, which oversees major projects like the proposed Convention Center expansion, is being cut by two positions, and Public Works will eliminate 7 jobs.
Chan also points out that the Mayor's SA 2020 is set to receive $100,000 in the proposed budget.
"When SA 2020 was created, it assured the City Council that no funding would be required from the city," she said.