Thursday, February 15, 2007

Oops, My Bad

On second thought, Virginia Boulet was right about Nagin being a good steward of public funds. After all anyone who "kept finances afloat despite working with only a quarter of the city's pre-Katrina budget" must be a damn good steward. Just kidding, but I realized that I didn't explain things very well in an earlier post. When the mayor gave his 100 day presentation, he and Rob Couhig both stated that the city had operated on 25 per cent of its pre-Katrina budget. The local media, the people who put every little thing the mayor says under a microscope, dutifully reported the figure. The Times Picayune even praised him for it.

Sounds like our mayor is a miracle worker, but it turns out that the number was almost totally fabricated. The city had a $480M operating budget in 2005 and a $325M operating budget in 2006; last I checked, $325M was slightly more than a quarter of $480M. The city did have recurring revenue (taxes, fees, etc.) of about $150M in 2006 with the shortfall being made up with federal loans and grants. If you borrow money and then spend it, you don't really spend it I guess. Even if the loans are forgiven, it was still money in the city budget. But the mayor claimed that 325 was a fourth of 480 and the local media unquestioningly reported it. So you see, you can't really blame Boulet for thinking the mayor's a financial genius. She may be an insider, but she must get her news from the Times Picayune.

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