Monday, Feb. 2, 2009 | As the city prepares for major budget cuts in the upcoming year, the size of the shortfall is still far from clear.
City officials believe that expenses will outstrip revenues by about $42 million for the fiscal year that starts July 1. But in public, they’ll continue to use the figure of a $54 million gap, which they cited shortly after the council voted in December not to shutter libraries and recreation centers as part of its budget-slashing measures. Other estimates have put the projected gap much higher.
The reason for the difference in the city’s calculations is that the city’s pension payment in the 2010 fiscal year is $12 million less than expected. Chief Operating Officer Jay Goldstone said he’ll mention the lower pension payment during budget talks in front of the public this year, but he will still refer to the $54 million figure to avoid confusion.
Goldstone said that’s the official number that’s been released by the Mayor’s Office and cited in the press, so there’s no reason to change the number that’s already in people’s minds “even though there’s a simple explanation.”
“I think it’s just going to be cleaner to keep that number constant and talk about things that we’re looking at that will change that number,” Goldstone said.
He added that the number is “moving target” because the city is still receiving information to better forecast revenues by the time they finish up budget in March.