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Shifting Costs is not a Budget Solution

The Albuquerque City Council has a budget proposal from Mayor Chavez in front of them that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in the current economic climate:

On the table now is the mayor’s $475 million proposal for basic city operations. It would shift money out of the construction budget and into the operating fund to help offset dwindling revenue from the tight economy. The measure would also cut about 200 vacant jobs from the city payroll.

“There’s not a lot of room to play around with,” said Councilor Ken Sanchez, chairman of the council budget committee.

In hearings this month, councilors have already made changes to provide enough money for regular city employees to get 3 percent raises, starting July 1.

Shifting costs from one time construction expenditures to cover recurring expenses accomplishes one thing and one thing only… a postponement of the inevitable. It just means that you are putting off the layoffs of city employees and cutting of services until after the election. Of course, we are going to have the same problem next budget year. Actually, the problems next budget year were originally reported to be even worse.

Now, I realize there may be a handful of you, probably Mayor Chavez included, that believe that the worst is behind us, and that the picture for the future is brighter. Of course, this belief has no grounding in reality:

Loan servicers are overwhelmed by the flood of applications. Mortgage investors are angry about a congressional bill prohibiting them from suing servicers that modify loans. Foreclosures are rising as unemployment soars.

I don’t live in the City of Albuquerque, but I would urge those of you that do to avoid voting for anyone not up to the task of making the hard decisions of truly balancing the City budget.