As cities around the nation go bankrupt, can’t pay their bills, and can’t pay their employees, the city of the District of Columbia reached a 1.75 billion in reserve funds. Mayor Vincent Gray and the chief financial officer Jeff DeWitt announced that the economy in the District of Columbia is going strong for the fourth straight year under Gray’s leadership.
The financial health of Washington continued show a dramatic upswing through Fiscal Year 2013 and the rainy day fund has set a record. There are many factors which might be used to explain the success of the D.C. economy; however as Harry Truman said the buck always stops with the leader of the organization and Mayor Vincent gray is the leader of D.C.
“When I took office, I made restoring fiscal stability to the District of Columbia my first priority. I inherited a rainy-day fund that had been spent down by the previous administration from 1.5 billion in Fiscal 2007 to $930 million at the end of Fiscal Year 2010, and was budgeted to plummet further to $705.1 million by the end of Fiscal Year 2011. Overspending was rampant across government, with spending pressures averaging hundreds of millions of dollars annually. I reduced expenses through difficult cuts and by finding efficiencies within government agencies and I made the tough call to strategically raise some taxes to balance the budget. I established a spending pressure task force to ensure agencies did not exceed their budgets. These measures have been extremely successful, and I am proud to announce today the complete turnaround of the District’s finances. We have fully rebuilt the District’s fund Balance beyond its previous high during the Williams administration, and spending pressures have been eliminated," Gray said.
Any head of a family, man or woman, has had to make difficult choices to pay for food, lodging, education, and transportation. Running a city budget calls for the same type of business acumen and common sense on a much more massive level. Having led the city’s economy to a surplus four years straight required Gray to make difficult choices but he also attracted business to the city and increased employment that allowed citizens to pay taxes and strengthen the city’s economy.
A famous story told by President John F. Kennedy centered on a family conference when the budget was tight and cost cutting was to be put into place. After the patriarch explained the budget crisis, and what cost cutting measures would have to be put into place one of the Kennedy children said, “Gee, Dad, you need to make more money.” Washington has made more money in the past four years; however the difficult and tough decisions made by Mayor Vincent Gray to keep DC employees working during the government shutdown saved family budgets, tuition payments and food and shelter costs for thousands of District residents. “I declared all personnel essential and continued vital city services to District residents un-interrupted. This would not have been possible if the District had not had adequate reserves upon which to draw," Gray said.
The full accounting of the District of Columbia budget and spending will be available online for taxpayer inspection. Examiner.com will review the report when it is available to bring readers up to date on city spending and the state of finances going in 2015.