Dramatic declines in revenue and increasing costs meant that balancing the 2021 budget required some very hard decisions. While we are using our rainy day fund and increasing revenue where we can, the 2021 Executive Budget asks a lot from City staff. It asks them to dial back some of the services they take pride in providing, to find efficiencies, to take some furlough days next year, and in a few cases, to accept a layoff and hopefully move into another City job. These asks come in a year when our entire community is facing financial uncertainty – small business owners are struggling to keep the doors open, employers are laying people off, households are facing housing and food insecurity, parents are coping with virtual learning, and more.

I think it’s only fair that the Mayor’s Office does its part to help balance the budget. To that end, some months ago, I directed our finance staff to transfer $50,000 from my 2020 office budget to support fall youth employment programs, and I told them to cut 5% of my office’s 2021 budget. In addition, I will be donating the increase in my salary for 2020 and 2021 to the City and to local non-profits. You might ask, why not just decrease my salary? The City has an ordinance that prevents a sitting elected official from changing their own salary during their term (that’s a good thing), so I can’t decrease my own salary for this year or next, but I can make donations.

I also want to thank Alders Harrington-McKinney, Skidmore and Henak for proposing an amendment that would reduce alder salaries by 2.5%, effective in April after the election for the new Council. Members of the Finance Committee approved that action Monday evening, and members of that committee have my thanks as well.  While these actions can’t mitigate the pain represented in the 2021 budget, it’s important that we as elected officials also do our part.

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