Budgeting for aid

The federal government’s announcement today that Stockton will receive nowhere near as much aid as City Hall had hoped to prevent police layoffs resulted in some heartbreak at City Hall, and it also made the four freshman council members who rejected City Manager Gordon Palmer’s initial budget proposal for its reliance on uncertain federal aid look good.

 

“I’m not happy about it, because the city needed the money, but it does show we made a sound decision in taking that stimulus money out of the proposed budget,” Councilman Dale Fritchen said. “When you make your decisions based on sound financial principles, more often than not you’re going to be right.”

 

Even Mayor Ann Johnston, who supported both Palmer’s initial proposal and the second one, said, “Obviously, it was very prudent for us not to count on those funds to balance the budget.”

 

To City Councilwoman Susan Eggman that was all a bit much. She said the revised budget only damaged other city services and raided reserves, a budget adjustment that could as easily have been made after the budget’s adoption (and without assuming the risk that federal aid might be sufficient not to require spending or saving elsewhere to be reduced).

 

If anyone had a political victory today it is the Freshman Four. No one was celebrating, though.

 

Outside City Hall this afternoon Councilman Elbert Holman Jr. said, “I wish things were better, but they aren’t.”

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