John F. Schaffner
The city of Atlanta has at least a $70 million shortfall in its 2007-2009 budget, according to city officials.
No one is sure of the actual deficit figure and no one — including Mayor Shirley Franklin, the city’s chief financial officer and all the members of City Council, including Howard Shook, chair of the city Finance Committee — is really sure what went into causing this shortfall.
The one thing known for sure, is that the shortfall is real, however much it might end up being.
There also are questions about just how much money is in the restricted budget reserve fund — thought by most members of City Council to be $65 million — or whether that money has already been tapped, inappropriately or not.
Mayor Franklin held a press conference on President’s Day Monday, Feb. 18, to say the city is not only facing a shortfall for the current fiscal year, but the 2008-09 budget year will likely be worse because of even lower projected revenues.
“We don’t have any answers yet,” Franklin said. “And what you are hearing, legitimately, from the council and from the public and from department heads is ‘Oh my golly, this is terrible!’ Well, now you’re hearing it from me.”
Terrible? Yes. But one thing the mayor made clear: she doesn’t want to waste time looking at “how we got here,” she just wants to focus on a solution.
Excuse me, madame mayor, but those who don’t learn from their past mistakes are destined to repeat them.