I received a call from a newspaper editor yesterday saying that the Mayor is disagreeing with my numbers. The Mayor has said he will be transparent about the budget, and that his staff will answer questions. I spoke to Lisa Signori when she presented her initial budget numbers to the city council and she said she would answer questions.
Well, I sent them a few straightforward questions by email (they requested email) and 15 days later: No Response. The email as follows:
"Please forward me the email for Lisa.
Rhonda N. Perch"
1) In her presentation she said our interest income will be down 20 million dollars. What is the source of the principle of that 20 million dollars? How much is it, and where is it kept? How much did we receive in FY 2009 and how much is she projecting in FY 2010.
2) She indicates 11 million additional dollars in interest payment and debt payment. What is our debt payment amount, how much debt do we have, and what interest are we paying in FY 2009 vs. FY 2010.
3) The $55 million dollars for additional salaries she projects is a 5% increase of 2009 vs. 2010. Why does she project a 5% increase in salary, is that what the union contracts called for?
It doesn't seem to make much sense to me that we are both paying higher interest rates on the money we owe, and getting less for the money we have. There could be explanations due to the short term turmoil in the market, but if they won't be open, honest and transparent about what the numbers are, it makes one doubt the veracity.
If we are paying higher rates, we need to be lobbying President Obama and Congress to give some of this trillion or two trillion in money to municipalities to they can reduce the interest they owe on their long term rates. If the Fed is loaning money at less than 1 percent to banks, surely we could get very low rates for the cities.
In these tough economic times, we need to look everywhere to save money. The Mayor's lack of transparency makes it difficult to believe that we can't afford to keep all of our teachers.