Saturday, November 3, 2007

Benicia Budget Balanced or Not?

by Norma Fox

Is the Benicia Budget balanced? Who knows. Maybe it depends on how you look at it. There has been a bit of disagreement about this subject lately. Personally, I’m inclined to think that Council Candidate Tom Campbell may be onto something when he simply points out that since present and projected total expenditures exceed revenue, perhaps we should question whether this is a balanced budget. He has a history of being a great budget watchdog for our city as a former city council member and also as a 4-year member of the city’s Audit and Finance Committee.

Having worked for years in an accounting environment myself, I know something about how reliable accounting statements and budget forecasts can be. Council candidate Strawbridge challenges Campbell’s assertion, saying, “Let’s look at the FACTS.” Well, sometimes what is a “fact” depends on how you define your terms and categories, and what figures you lump together. Also the summary data is only as good as the raw source data it comes from (garbage in-garbage out rule).

We citizens cannot pour through the budget at this level of detail. But I have a lot of trust Tom Campbell’s record of strict fiscal responsibility and discipline and his proven expertise and experience in budget oversight.

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