Thursday, January 20, 2011

Words George Hartzman Intends to Deliver at Mimi's Cafe on the morning of January 21, 2011

"At the Tuesday, Jan. 18 councilmeeting, a motion made by Councilmember Trudy Wade
that the council revise a resolution passed on July 2, 1973
that allowed the city budget director to move money all over the place
without council approval passed by a 6-to-3 vote.

Councilmembers Robbie Perkins, Dianne Bellamy-Small and Jim Kee
voted against the council having more control over how the city spends money.

...Wade noted, ...the council has no say in the staff transferring money
from one account to another because of the resolution passed in 1973.

...She said the budget just set the total amount
but the manager could move it all over the place without notifying the council
until after the money had been moved and spent.

[Nancy] Vaughan said, however, "It's very frustrating when the staff finds money."

And she gave the example of the $43,000 that the staff found for the skating rink.

Was Greensboro's City Council apprised of the $40,000 taxpayer dollars
given to the Ice Skating Championships?

Vaughan noted that the council was told
it should not cut the budgets for maintenance and repair in the current budget
but now it appears those line items are being used as places to hold money
until it can be transferred somewhere else.

She said, "If there is a contingency account, I wish it would be labeled a contingency account
and not put in something like maintenance and repair."

Wade said that the City Council was the governing body and
"not one councilmember can tell you what we are doing with the money."

She said the city needed some checks and balances.

Vaughan noted that money budgeted for rental of land was transferred to cover longevity pay
and other personnel expenses
and it was hard to understand the reason for such a transfer."

John Hammer
Rhino Times, January 20, 2011

What were the City's total fund balances at the end of 2008/9,
and at the end of 2009/10,
and what are the anticipated year end balances for 2010/11?

What is the statutory minimums for the fund balances for 2010/11?

If the City of Greensboro appropriated fund balances of $30,464,269 during 2010/11,
will the city have appropriated $85,633,808 of fund balances since the beginning of 2008/9?

Page 13, Adopted 2010/11 budget

33,421,883 + 21,747,656 + 30,464,269 = $85,633,808
Was 2008/9's net revenues minus appropriated fund balances $410,080,337?

Was 2009/10's net revenues minus appropriated fund balances $401,020,748?

Are 2010/11's expected net revenues minus appropriated fund balances $393,327,363?

George Hartzman
City of Greensboro Information Request
July 19, 2010

"The Senate had signed off on measures
to move about $4.7 billion of local government monies
into the state’s fund."

California Budget Deal Closes $26 Billion Gap
Jennifer Steinhauer
New York Times, July 24, 2009

If California can confiscate tax revenues from local governments,
can North Carolina take money from Guilford County
and The City of Greensboro?

George Hartzman
City of Greensboro Information Request
August 11th, 2009

Why would the City of Greensboro say local government tax revenues couldn't be confiscated
less than a week before they were?

"State cuts local share of beer tax

State cuts to local beer and wine tax revenue will easily remove more than $1 million from local budgets.

…The state is holding two-thirds of the expected revenue from municipalities in the beer and wine tax.

…Greensboro is expected to lose about $800,000 in beer and wine tax revenue.

Guilford County stands to lose about $250,000…

The money instead will stay in state accounts.

County departments know cuts are coming but don’t know what they will look like.

Social services and public health departments haven’t received their marching orders from Raleigh yet, either.

“Not everybody knows the full impact yet,” said Michael Halford, Guilford County budget director.

“My guess is there will be some big realignment.”"

Amanda Lehmert and Gerald Witt
Greensboro News and Record, August 14, 2009

If Guilford County, North Carolina can disclose Fund Balances,
why can't the City of Greensboro?

"...In May, I asked the city what the gap was
between The City of Greensboro’s 2009 spending and 2010’s expected revenues,
otherwise known as the budget deficit, and the information request has not been answered.

In April, the Greensboro News and Record reported
the city could afford $75 million worth of projects over the next two years
including a Library, the Aquatic Center and a recreation center
without a tax increase, by eliminating jobs and loose leaf pick up.

If Greensboro’s government believes a tax hike is unnecessary for the new debt,
how is anyone supposed to agree,
if the city won’t release information and/or the news industry won’t report it?

Why would who not want Greensboro’s residents to know
what the government shortfalls are expected to be?

In May, we were warned of shortfalls and closed or canceled libraries,
and the elimination of school crossing guards.

In June, we ended up with a tax cut and a bigger budget than the year before.

On July 6, I re-sent the information request to the City,
including questions about 2008 spending and 2009’s revenues,
and 2010 spending and 2011’s expected revenues.

On July 19, I asked for the City's total fund balances at the end of 2008,
and at the end of 2009, and the anticipated year end balances for 2010,
including statutory minimums.

None of this information has been released.

Should Greensboro’s press corps feel obligated to inform the public
as to how much cash Greensboro is spending?

Does Greensboro's press corps prohibit itself
from disclosing what the City of Greensboro's actual budget deficits are?
If not, why, and if so,
why haven't Greensboro’s actual deficits been reported by the press?

How can Greensboro's residents determine
if borrowing more money is a good idea, if the City of Greensboro
doesn’t release enough information for anyone to figure it out?

What happened to the crossing guards, loose leaf pick up
and the $9.26 million “shortfall”?

From what I think I figured out, Greensboro’s 2009’s net revenues
were about $9 million less than 2008’s,
and 2010’s net revenues are expected to be almost $8 million less than last year,
yet the city intends to spend a million more.

It is my understanding that to accomplish higher spending
with about $17 million less income than two years before,
Greensboro intends to use more than $30 million of savings in 2010,
after spending almost $22 million of savings in 2009,
on top of spending more than $33 million in 2008.

If it’s true that 2008's net revenues were $410 million,
and 2009's net revenues were $401 million,
and 2010's expected net revenues are $393 million,
as the city draws down $85,633,808 of savings in three years
doesn’t it seem counterintuitive
that we are going to spent $1 million more this year than last,
and borrow millions more without a tax increase
as our income is falling?
Is it justifiable for a community’s elders
to spend millions on themselves for future generations to pay for?

Should we borrow more money to spend on what we don’t need?

Does most of Greensboro’s adult population realize
the city’s young will have to repay the principle and interest?

Is Greensboro’s City Council trying to temporarily stabilize the economy,
by borrowing from relatively younger voters and their children,
who may not reap the prosperity of their parents?

If Greensboro’s City Council is supposed to act in the population's best interests,
how can this debt be justified in the face of falling revenues,
with Guilford County facing what looks like a more than $85 million budget deficit,
while the State of North Carolina
faces somewhere between a $3.7 and $7 billion shortfall next year
as federal stimulus dollars evaporate?"

If $3.7 billion divided by 21,000 = $176,190.48 per job,
but $3.7 billion divided by $60,000 per job = 61,667 jobs,
and $3.7 billion divided by $50,000 per job = 74,000 jobs,
how did the N.C. Budget & Tax Center come up with 21,000 jobs?

George Hartzman
Greensboro's City Council, September 7, 2010

What were City of Greensboro's total savings balances
as of the end of September, 2010?

Information Request for the City of Greensboro
December 21, 2010

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