One of the most important functions of the City Council is to adopt the City Budget each year. I have taken this process very seriously as your Councilmember and will continue to do so.
As residents face continued economic hardships due to COVID and the City faces the possibility of future reductions in revenues from outside sources, we will need to make even more serious and difficult decisions in the coming years.
As your Councilmember, I have advocated for a more accessible budget document; worked with staff, residents, and other members of the Council to create a time-on-task tracking pilot project, and reached out to you through a Ward 3 Budget Survey and thorough reporting of my positions and reasons for my votes on each line item in the budget reconciliation process.
I have supported a tax rate of not more than the Constant Yield plus an inflation calculation (Employment Cost Index); this fiscal year, I supported maintaining the same tax rate as last year.
But there is still much work to be done on the budget document, and we need to develop a more collaborative way of working with residents on budget decisions. We also need to take a close look at the tax rate and the way that we are budgeting to ensure that residents most in need get assistance, and our tax system if more fairly distributed.
Now it is more important than ever to:
- Improve our budget and financial management systems so we can be innovative, racially equitable, and responsible in how we manage the City’s finances and your tax dollars:
- Create an budget document that is more accessible and understandable to residents by adding analytical tools such as percentage changes to proposed expenditures and infographics
- Develop a comprehensive process for analyzing racial equity impacts in budget decisions, since many racial inequities occur as a result of the way funds are allocated
- Engage residents in the budget process in new ways and conduct targeted outreach to ensure we are hearing from underrepresented groups — especially Black and Brown residents, residents with limited English, and renters
- Look for opportunities to be both innovative and achieve cost-savings:
- Explore new opportunities to collaborate with institutions of higher learning, nonprofits, and volunteers when possible to achieve our goals
- Seek out opportunities to pilot new programs or technologies (especially in sustainability and community outreach)
- Make difficult cuts and changes when needed to address budget shortfalls, prioritizing racial equity and meeting the most critical needs of residents
- Reassess and develop new tax programs:
- Set a manageable overall tax rate while developing new programs for targeted tax assistance to create a more progressive property taxing system where those who can afford to pay more do so, and those with greater need pay less
- Reassess the City’s existing Payment-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes (PILOT) program, which provides tax reductions for some nonprofit housing providers, to ensure that it is effectively meeting our housing goals and supporting organizations that are providing quality housing. Also look for ways to utilize this program to create incentives to improve and maintain housing quality
- Discourage long-sitting vacant developed property through creation of a separate tax category for vacant properties