2008-09 sales tax debacle finally ends

I just have one question: Will anyone be fired over this? Or will it be business as usual at City Hall, where underestimating the 2008-09 sales tax revenue by almost $30 million — 12.6 percent — is no big deal. Or, as almost everyone downtown has kept telling us: "It’s not our fault. We’re having a recession. And it’s worse everywhere else."

Our handy sales tax chart is here. The totals for August and September, when the fiscal year ended, were 16.1 and 19.1 percent off budget. The $206.3 million collected was the smallest total since the 2004-05 fiscal year. (The sales tax accounts for abut 22 percent of the city general budget; another 43 percent comes from property tax receipts. The official figures are on the state comptroller Web site. The months listed on that site are, for accounting purposes, about two months ahead.)

We’ll set up a new chart for the 2009-10 fiscal year, which began at the beginning of October, and follow the process again. The city budget types have penciled in $206.6 million for sales tax revenue. for the next 12 months. No doubt they used pencil so they would be able to use an eraser.

Actually, I suppose I have a second question. Will the voters pay attention for this ineptitude in 2011, or will they continue to re-elect the politicians who support the bureaucrats who are wasting their tax dollars?



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