Budget Deficit in Context

This Statesman story covering the swearing in of our new Mayor points out that the projected deficit for the City of Austin ranges from $30 to $43 million.  This sounds like a lot of money relative to the average person’s income.  Unfortunately, the story does not put the number in context.  As a result, a reader does not know if this is a huge crisis or a manageable problem.

The approved 2008-2009 budget which runs until October 1st of this year has a General Fund “Requirements” (a.k.a. spending) of $620.7 million.  Given the $30 to $43 million potential deficit, this range as a proportion is 4.8 to 6.9% of the 2008-2009 budget.  It is not an insignificant hurdle, but not as apocalyptic as the deficits facing California. As this June of 2009 update on the  upcoming budget to the City Council indicates, the sales tax slow down is the major reason for the deficit.

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