Last-Minute Budget Change Costs Taxpayers ‘Tens of Thousands’
A last-minute change to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty's fiscal 2011 budget proposal this morning will cost taxpayers "in the tens of thousands" of dollars to reprint budget documents, sources tell LL.
The change has to do with the Office of the Tenant Advocate, an office that "advocates for, educates, and provides outreach for" the city's renters. An early version of Fenty's budget plan involved plans to scale back or eliminate the agency, as mentioned in a post to a Washington Post blog this morning. But uproar from several persons who learned of the cut, including Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, forced the change.
No budget books were available this morning for reporters or council staffers; staff from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer explained that they were still being printed. A letter distributed by the CFO's office indicated a $469,000 cut from the Tenant Advocate, with an additional $1.8 million transferred to other agencies, but in an interview, City Administrator Neil O. Albert indicated that the office would remain as it was.
The decision had heavy consequences, quite literally. The budget books aren't just a couple of pamphlets with some spreadsheets inside; they really are books. Last year's congressional submission (pictured) consists of seven perfect-bound volumes containing hundreds and hundreds of pages. Stacked together, one set of last year's tomes measures more than seven inches thick and weighs some 17 pounds.
The entire initial press run of 25 books had already been printed, says one source, and a second run of 250 had already started when the order was given for the redo.
A letter from the mayor would have sufficed to make the change, says a Wilson Building staffer. The city faced a budget shortfall of more than $550 million for the 2011 fiscal year.