February 28, 2015
Mayor Muriel Bowser opened the third of her Budget Engagement Forums at Anacostia High School in Ward 8 with a discussion on balancing the fiscal 2016 budget. She informed the crowd that although the originally reported $240M deficit, is more likely to be between $190 to $195M, there are still a number of crucial decisions to be made. The Mayor stressed that “housing, jobs, and expanding DC’s middle class” are her administration’s top priorities. In order to achieve that end she established these forums to engage the citizens of DC before spending decisions are finalized.
Mr. Rashad M. Young, City Administrator of the District of Columbia, presented a more detailed breakdown of the city’s operating and capital budget’s stressing that 80% of its capital budget spending were in education and public works – transportation. It was also relayed by another member of the Mayor’s administration that the revenue shortfall was related to shortfalls in “automated traffic enforcement and capital gains taxes”.
The meeting then moved to round table discussions with representatives from the mayor’s office and residents covering five key areas of improvement: Education, Public Safety, Economic Opportunity, Environment and Infrastructure, and Neighborhoods. The approximate one hour discussions included highlighting how each participant would spend $100 across these five areas.
This lead to discussions on identifying 2-3 new things to improve that area as well as identifying potential cuts in those areas that the neighborhood could withstand. Mayer Bowser bought the meeting back together and asked, by a show of applause, which area the gathering felt needed the largest portion of the fictitious $100 allotment. Education was a clear winner with Economic Development a not too distant second.
The meeting concluded with a rousing endorsement from At-Large Councilman Vincent Orange who praised the Mayor for stepping in and aggressively taking on the obstacles she was handed as well as engaging the community from the start.