Last night’s budget town hall meeting was depressing. Sure, the budget itself is hell of depressing, but what was even more depressing for me was how few people showed up. It was hard to do a good count, since there were all sorts of people swarming around the room, but I tried a couple of times, and as far as I can figure, there were at most thirty people there who weren’t either City staff or with the League of Women Voters.
There is one budget town hall left. It is on Monday, April 27th, and the Lakeside Garden Center from 6:30 to 8:00 PM (666 Bellevue Avenue), and I certainly hope it will be better attended than last night’s event. It’s a good opportunity to get an overview of the City’s budget, and of course, to share your input.
Anyway, before we consider how the budget should be distributed, we should probably look at the way the budget is currently distributed. I recommend reading the City’s budget fact sheet (PDF) for background.
For now, let’s take a look at the way things broke down last time around. The chart below lists the budget by department in the adopted 2008-09 budget (PDF). There are two columns, one for the total budget and one for the general fund. Most of the City’s budget is restricted for specific purposes, and the General Fund is the portion the the City has discretion over distributing. There are limitations to fund distribution within the General Fund as well, but I’ll save that for another day.
And for the visual learners out there, here’s the same information, presented in graphic form. The image below illustrates allocations for the total budget.
This one illustrates the spending breakdown within the General Purpose Fund.
And below you can see the budgeted staffing for each department.
Note: these numbers reflect the adopted 2008-09 budget and do not include the mid-cycle budget cuts from last year. I did try to present it that way, but the information from the City on that is so scattered, that after toying with it for what felt like forever, I still didn’t feel like I could be sure it was totally accurate.
For next year, the City is anticipating $414 million for the General Fund.