Despite acknowledging a modest <
increase in New York City's fiscal year 1992 surplus, several observers of city finances say Mayor David N. Dinkins and finance officials could face greater difficulties finding revenues needed to balance the budget in 1994 and beyond.
Those observers, some of whom <
spoke on the condition of anonymity, called the minimum $60 million surplus growth a mild piece of good news in an overall financial plan that continues to avoid structural budget balance from fiscal years 1994 through 1996.
Mayor Dinkins announced the <
additional 1992 budget surplus of $60 million in a letter to Gov. Mario M. Cuomo; Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin, D-Queens; and Senate Majority Leader Ralph J. Marino, R-Muttontown.
City officials previously cited a <
surplus of $455 million in fiscal year 1992 that would be used to help eliminate their proposed use of transitional financing and federal
aid in the 1993 fiscal year, which
begins July 1.
In the letter, released Tuesday <
evening, Mayor Dinkins said the surplus would allow the city to withdraw its request for a controversial $115 million in tax increases that had been proposed to help balance the 1993 budget of $29.5 billion.
City officials attributed the <
growth in the 1992 surplus to higher-than-estimated business tax revenues and spending reductions.
Deputy Budget Director David A. <
Smith said the city expects to gain an additional $35 million in business tax revenue next year. He said projections to reduce city spending will add another $20 million in revenues, which will completely cover the loss of the $115 million tax package in 1993.
Finance officials said the city will <
continue to press for the fiscal 1994 tax package, which includes a controversial increase in the commuter earnings tax. Mr. Smith said the assumption used to create this year's surplus cannot be counted on to have a significant impact in balancing future budgets.
Some city officials said the surplus <
in 1992 could be higher. Sources, for example, said a draft report from Elinor B. Bachrach, state deputy comptroller for New
York City, is expected to show that the surplus is greater than the city had indicated.
The City Council maintains that <
the executive budget offers an additional $160 million surplus on top of the $455 million officially stated in Mayor Dinkin's executive budget.
Mr. Smith said there may be <
some minor movements in the 1992 budget surplus. "I am not absolutely certain [the budget] is done moving," Mr. Smith said. "And I am not at all certain in which direction."
City Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman <
said even with the 1992 surplus boost, the city still faces a $176 million budget gap in fiscal 1993, comprised largely of an obligation to provide the Board of Education with $140 million under the state's Stavisky-Goodman Act.
Ms. Holtzman, however, downplayed <
the significance of the 1993 gap and offered a number of savings suggestions, including a reduction in new hires.
But not all observers of city finances <
saw the elimination of the tax package as a positive for the city.
"To eliminate the tax package <
and substitute a one-time surplus is making tomorrow's problems more difficult," said Allen J. Proctor, executive director of the New York State Financial Control Board.
Mr. Proctor said city officials <
made a mistake by not attempting to replace the tax package with a revenue source they can count on for future years, preventing structural balance of future budgets.
Without structural balance, <
which involves the matching of revenues and expenses on a long-term basis, the city faces financial pressure for the life of its four-year plan, made worse by a continued poor economy. For example, the city has slated the use of $300 million in transitional financing to balance its 1994 budget.
New York, therefore, faces the <
continued threat of a rating down-grade on its bonds from Standard and Poor's Corp. and Moody's Investors Service, observers said.