Last year at budget time, I set out with what I thought was a simple goal. I wanted the City of Richardson to adopt a balanced budget. I was disappointed. The city adopted a budget in which expenditures exceeded revenues. The city insisted the budget was nevertheless balanced. That's because the city feels free to use "reserved fund balance" to make up for a shortfall in revenues and still call the budget balanced.
I figured OK, maybe it's at least a cyclically balanced budget. Some years there's a reserved fund balance to draw down. Other years, the city runs a surplus and restores that reserved fund balance. An adamant reader insisted that I was wrong, that the reserved fund balance is drawn down each and every year, and replenished not by budget surpluses, but by increasing debt.
I never did get to the bottom of the conundrum. You can read the conclusion of last year's whole ugly mess if you want.
Now, they're ba-a-a-a-ck! The City Council is holding another of its annual so-called budget retreats this week. After the jump, my firm resolution.
This is a conversation in which no one speaks English. Some people are speaking gobbledygook. Some are speaking gibberish. Some say we're bankrupt and don't know it. Others say, are you crazy, nothing to see here, move along. Both sides think I'm dimwitted because I can't quite put two and two together to get either three or five like they do.
I firmly resolve not to revisit the topic again this year. Or not so firmly resolve. I know already that I won't be able to resist sneaking a peek at those bottom line revenue and expenditure numbers. I admit it. I'm weak. What I really want to see this year is if any council members have the gumption to question the (new) city manager why expenditures have to exceed revenues ... again.