The budgetary back-and-forth between Shirley Franklin and the Atlanta City Council took on the feel of a cut-throat, high-stakes poker match this past Friday, with the mayor effectively calling their bet and raising.
When the Council adopted a $571 million city budget for 2009 at the end of June, it sidestepped a proposed tax increase by tasking Franklin to trim $14.6 million from city expenses on top of more than $57 million in cuts shed already undertaken to avoid a projected budget shortfall.
On Friday, the mayor upped the ante, instead slashing $21.6 million nearly 50 percent more than requested from the budget, at the cost of a West End fire station, a streetlight maintenance contract, vacant police jobs and 78 city employees, including 34 firefighters. Thats in addition to the more than 400 staffers laid off in May.
Franklin didnt maintain a good poker face; clearly angry, she blamed the Council for forcing her hand. Their actions will affect the city for a long time to come, she said.
Minutes later, Council President Lisa Borders countered that the choices were Franklins and would be reviewed and possibly reversed by the Council. To indicate that the Council mandated cuts to police and fire is disingenuous, she said. Were not done yet with these cuts.
Unfortunately, that isnt all theyre not done with.
On Monday, a judge ordered that, for now, Atlanta and other municipalities within Fulton County could only collect taxes based on 2007 values for most commercial properties not the 2008 reassessments, which were about 20 percent higher.
No one at City Hall yet knows the full impact of the ruling, but it could mean city revenue would be tens of millions less than anticipated in coming months. Under the judges decision, additional taxes cannot be collected on assessments under appeal until more than half of the 15,000 appeals are resolved by the county, a process that likely will take months.
In fact, Robert Proctor, the attorney challenging the countys assessments, has filed a new lawsuit challenging the certification of tax officials hearing appeals. If his suit succeeds, the appeals process would grind to a halt, adding more months to the delay in tax collections.
Borders said she hopes to learn the scope of the damage by early next week. She also is waiting to hear from city attorneys on the legality of re-opening the budget process, if that step becomes necessary. When it approved the city budget in June, the Council likewise set the tax rate for the coming year. Its unknown whether the city can revisit that decision so soon.
Said Borders: This situation is unprecedented.
"If Iran becomes the major problem to the US as I fear it will, Carter…
"he global embrace of street art, which at its foundation, is an offshoot of hip-hop's…
Yeah this is a head-scratcher but it kind of made my day.
so palin graduated from moscow, idaho's finest institute of higher learning? a partial explanation for…
Please take a look at http://www.SaveTheTed.org
@ kiteless "carter's problem is that the man is a saint." That my be Carter's…