The New York City comptroller's office will likely issue a report today that will criticize elements of Mayor David N. Dinkins' fiscal 1994 budget, including a proposal to drum up $215 million by selling delinquent property tax receivables.
Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman will join a growing list of public officials, fiscal watchdogs, and prominent private citizens who have questioned the city's fiscal 1994 budget and the mayor's four-year financial plan. These officials have criticized many of the budget's revenue projections. as well as plans to erase a projected $2.1 billion deficit.
Holtzman's report, which is part of her office's normal review of the city's budget, will identify several revenue sources in the budget that may not materialize plus parts of the gap-closing plan her office sees as fiscally inappropriate, including the sale of delinquent property taxes, said David Neustadt, a spokesman for the comptroller's office.
Officials in the comptroller's office on Friday said the report was ready to be issued. But also that afternoon, Neustadt said the report had not received approval from all members of Holtzman's staff. He also denied speculation that the comptroller's office was toning down some of the report's criticisms because of pressure from the Dinkins administration.
Neustadt said the report "at its core" will contain suggestions to raise revenues similar to those recently made public by Holtzman and Brian Baxter, first deputy comptroller. Baxter spoke in front of the City Council Finance Committee last week.
Holtzman, speaking at Wednesday's public finance conference sponsored by Empire State Report magazine, said, "There are some problems in the fiscal 1994 executive budget that must be resolved."
Specifically, Holtzman said the city "will not get all" of the $530 million of additional state and federal aid currently appearing as revenue items in the mayor's executive budget. Fiscal watchdog groups and the city's fiscal monitors have warned city officials for months that the aid would not materialize and that the city should seek alternative ways to produce revenues.
City budget director Philip R. Michael said city officials have seen a draft copy of the report, which he said "pointed out resources [Holtzman] thought" the city could utilize. "I don't think [the city comptroller's report] offered many new ideas."
Michael said the city will receive between $60 million and $80 million in state aid, but the city is continuing to press Albany for additional revenues. The city's 1994 fiscal year begins July 1, and officials from the Dinkins administration and the City Council must adopt a balanced budget by June 30.
Michael said the city has a contingency plan that will help it achieve a balanced budget, even if it does not receive the level of government aid it originally counted on. He said the city will enact $176 million in service cuts, and that it plans to go ahead with the delinquent property tax receivable sale despite Holtzman's criticisms.
Michael also said the city's budget will likely include revenues from the federal government, even though the city may not receive the $250 million it listed in the mayor's executive budget.
The budget, for example, will show that the city is "expecting $250 million of federal aid," Michael said. The receipt of this aid, he said, will not be certain until the Clinton administration's budget is finalized. He added that the city is having discussions with the bond rating agencies, but that he does not believe a rating change is imminent.