At last night’s meeting of the Cranston City Council, Mayor Allan Fung offered his budget for fiscal year 2009-2010, and his plans for closing this year’s large budget deficit.
Mayor Fung began by relating the budget situation in Cranston to the national and state situaion: “Cranston, like every municipality in the state, is living through an economic crisis unparalelled for our generation”.
Turning the focus to more local matters, Mayor Fung outlined the recent history of Cranston’s budget issues – union concessions budgeted for but not achieved, a $2.9 million dollar overrun in total expenses and unrealistic expectations for interest income, for starters. The result: a deficit for this fiscal year, from expenses too high plus revenues to low, of about $7.4 million.
The Mayor is proposing two sets of actions to get to the end of this fiscal year: 1) Layoffs over the next several weeks and 2) tapping the rainy day fund for this fiscal year.
The Mayor also provided an update of the status of police union negotiations and other union negotiations in Cranston, outlined his steps on dealing with two drivers of continuing deficits that don’t always get the attention they deserve, pension payments and other debt payments, and offered an update on Cranston’s never ending battle between the School Committee and the rest of city government.
The bottom line tax number for next year is a 5.46% increase in the City’s total tax levy, which will require going beyond this year’s tax cap figure of 4.75%. And in summation, “there’s no one that’s going to bail us out of this crisis “.
Finally, I’ll make a special note of one short but important and very fiscally conservative statement made by Mayor Fung.