Ald. Jed Sanborn is the Common Council's reigning fiscal hawk, and usually every year at this time he's proposing amendments to the Board of Estimates, on which he serves, to trim spending from the city's budget. But not this year, Sanborn says, "not out of sour grapes, but because they won't stand a chance, so I'm tired of wasting everyone's time."
Instead, Sanborn will propose amendments to the full council, which he expects to give his ideas consideration. Sanborn hasn't yet drafted specific cuts, but he thinks the proposed 5% tax hike is intolerable, especially when wages and property values are stagnating. He's aghast that the mayor and others are "patting themselves on the back for only raising taxes 5%."
None of the 27 amendments to the city's $247 million operating budget proposed by council members to the Board of Estimates have called for reductions in spending.
Ald. Rhodes-Conway calls the budgeting process "incredibly frustrating," noting that it falls to alders to defend worthy but tangential items. "Often, the council is under pressure to restore things the mayor has cut so the pressure is on us, not the mayor, to raise taxes."
Like Sanborn, Rhodes-Conway plans to look for places to trim (budget amendments are due to the comptroller on Nov. 9). But, she adds, "Frankly, I don't think I'll get 11 votes [a council majority]. There are plenty of things to cut, but they're not politically palatable."