“This is a time that we're supposed to be thinking out of the box and making sure every dollar gets spent wisely. I’m not hearing that from this administration,” he said, insisting that the administration’s actions would leave the next administration with a tougher budget to manage.
Hartzog pushed back against the suggestion. “I do not think that we're leaving future administrations with any more challenges. I think in fact, we have increased reserves and continued to have record levels of savings. And we'll continue to do so, including the fact that we've negotiated labor contracts, which has provided a lot of stability and planning forward for this city's budget,” Hartzog responded.
There were several other priorities that Council members expressed over the nearly four hours that budget officials testified. Council Member Keith Powers pushed the administration on relief for small businesses and rental assistance for tenants that are out of work. Council Member Margaret Chin called for more. Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer urged Hartzog to ensure libraries and cultural institutions continue to be adequately funded. Council Member Ben Kallos called for cuts to wasteful contracts and consultants that make up the $16 billion contract budget. Council Member Carlos Menchaca implored the administration to help undocumented immigrants, who were left out of the federal stimulus package approved by Congress.
The Council will continue hearings on specific agency budgets over the next few weeks before it moves to closed negotiations with the administration. The budget for the next fiscal year is due by July 1.