Thanks to a steep drop in sales tax revenue, Seattle’s new fiscal forecast is bad and getting worse, with a $29.5 million decline in revenue now projected for 2009, on top of the $13.3 million actual revenue decrease in 2008. And that’s good compared to 2010, where a “squishy” forecast now projects another $41 million drop in revenue.
As a result, the Council and the Mayor need to cut $43 million in expenses between now and the end of the 2009 fiscal year, plus God knows how much in 2010. It won’t be easy. But I suppose, it could be worse.
$43 million amounts to roughly 4.7% of the city’s annual $912 million budget, and I’m guessing a big chunk of that gap will be filled by drawing down the city’s $30 million rainy day fund. But while I don’t envy the folks who will be asked to make these cuts, it’s a walk in a slightly underfunded park compared to the crisis facing the state:
While the city’s budget troubles are serious, Dively said they are not as bad as the situation state lawmakers face in trying to backfill a $9 billion deficit to a $35 billion two-year spending plan with cuts and possible tax increases. That’s because sales tax alone amounts to more than 50 percent of the state’s general fund revenue.
“While you’ll see that we have a significant budget challenge, it’s nothing what like the state has. The state’s is far worse than what we’re talking about here,” Dively said.
By comparison, sales tax revenues account for only about 20% of the city’s general fund, but shhh… let’s not talk about the state’s structural revenue imbalance, as it interfere’s with the popular meme that the budget crisis is largely the result of out-of-control spending.