Kicking off the budget process for the next fiscal year, Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling has asked all Metro department heads to analyze the effect of a 3 percent cut to their budgets.
In a memo sent on Thursday, Riebeling wrote that despite encouraging state and national economic news, “We are still not seeing any real increase in local revenues.
“Revenue growth remains an issue,” he added.
“This is a starting point to get some understanding so we have some basis for making our final budget plans,” Riebeling said. “It’s a starting point to see where we are.”
Mayor Karl Dean expects to hold 2011-12 fiscal year budget hearings in late March or April when he, Riebeling and other members of his administration will sit across from department heads and review their proposed 3 percent reductions. Between then and now, the finance department is set to assist departments with their budget preparations.
If history is an indicator, however, Metro won’t ultimately resort to a full 3 percent cut. Last year, Riebeling asked departments to look at preparations for a 7.5 percent cut. Ultimately, Metro’s budget cut was between 1 and 2 percent.
“Clearly, like prior years, this will not be the ultimate reduction for each department but a starting point from which the mayor’s budget will be submitted to the Metropolitan Council,” Riebeling wrote.
Metro was able to stave off severe cuts to its budget because of Dean’s decision to restructure the city’s debt, lowering the city’s debt service costs, which freed up money in the short term for operating costs. The Metro Council signed off on the restructuring approach.
Metro’s budget for the current fiscal year is $1.52 billion.