Two fiscal monitors of New York City released updated budget reports yesterday that reiterated warnings of potentially large budget gaps in fiscal 1992, partially caused by a weak economy and higher-than-projected expenditures.
City Comptroller Elizabeth Holtzman released a report saying the city may have to contend with a projected $419 million budget gap for fiscal 1992, which began July 1. Part of the problem, the report says, is an estimated $234 million shortfall in city tax revenues and $174 million more in spending.
In July, after the city's $28.5 billion fiscal 1992 budget was approved, Ms. Holtzman's office projected a budget gap between $392 million and $511 million.
And state Comptroller Edward V. Regan released his office's monthly milestone report on the city's finances -- this one covering September -- that says the city still faces a possible $283 million budget gap in the current fiscal year, partially caused by spending increases and debt service costs. This is the same estimate Mr. Regan projected in his August report.
The two reports were presented on the eve of today's meeting of the New York State Financial Control Board, where city officials are expected to present a contingency plan to contend with potential budget problems. The board, created in 1975 to oversee the city's finances during its fiscal crisis in the mid-1970s, is expected to discuss the city's progress in implementing a $2.3 billion gap closing plan for the current fiscal year.
Ms. Holtzman said in a statement, "I am pleased that at my urging at the August Financial Control Board meeting, the city agreed to prepare a contingency plan, and I look forward to seeing the plan."
But Ms. Holtzman noted that the city's expenses could be driven higher by $55 million in restored service cuts and $53 million more in overtime costs and $33 million in additional Medicaid spending.
Other factors that could contribute to the city's budget problems include the uncertainty of the city's collective bargaining agreements, which expire this fiscal year. And the Transit Authority's projected $460 million fiscal 1992 budget gap may force city officials to make higher contributions to the transit subsidy to avoid or limit a fare increase, the report notes.
Under the mandate of the revised City Charter, Ms. Holtzman issues regular reports on the city budget.
Mr. Regan noted that while the final results of the city's first quarter revenue collections are not complete, "the available data show little cause for optimism, with revenues during the July-August period down about 3% from the previous year." The shortfall reflects poor retail sales as well as reduced business spending, the state comptroller's report notes.
The report also says that while there appear to be no major surprises in first-quarter tax revenue activity, the comptroller's office is concerned that "the continued deterioration of the local economy could lead to tax shortfalls in the months ahead."