Mayor Bill Foster seems to have been prepping for a tax increase for several months behind the scenes, and now he is talking about all of the things that will happen if the city doesn’t find new revenue streams, from laying off “200 to 300 employees” to saying “Some departments might be eliminated entirely” and then there’s this horrible Foster gem, “We’re in the cremation phase”. As Doc Webb points out on SaintPetersBlog, the Mayor knew about the revenue shortfall problem over a year ago, and admits he should have done something about it then. St Petersburg’s Procrastinator-in-Chief strikes again.
Council Chair Leslie Curran says “Foster is almost a non-entity,” and Councilman Charlie Gerdes says “The mayor needs to be a leader and say, ‘This is what I think is the right thing to do’… And he hasn’t done that yet.”. In fact, Mayor Foster is withholding all recommendations until after the third budget summit in mid-June, leaving a glaring budgetary leadership void at city hall for the next two months. There has been no mention of where the $3 million in budget savings he’s talked about will come from, or anything else budget related. He’s clammed up and won’t say anything specific at all.
He has distanced himself even more from his own budget by saying that it is his goal this year to get as much public input and participation in the budget process as he can, and that “This will indeed be the people’s budget”. So let’s get this straight Mr. Mayor, the last two budgets you had public forums AFTER you already drafted your budget, and you took almost none of the suggestions offered in the public forums, and now after you have cut the city budget the last two years, as well as raising all sorts of fees to avoid the dreaded “raising taxes”, it’s not even going to be “your” budget anymore now that you have finally accepted the fact that you HAVE TO raise taxes? So now, when he runs for reelection next year he can say “I didn’t raise taxes last year, that was the people’s budget, they said they wanted higher taxes, so I just let them have what they wanted”, which is a slimy politician kind of thing to do, not something a true leader does, making it exactly what we have come to expect from our stumbling Mayor Bill Foster.
Cross-posted with permission of Bob Wilson of the Bill Foster Watch.