We at the DC Fiscal Policy Institute — and many of our colleagues — are very focused right now on the budget for fiscal year 2017. The mayor’s budget proposal for next year is out, and we are working to encourage the DC Council to fill gaps in a number of services that are important to DC residents. DCFPI’s just-released Budget Toolkit highlights many of these needs.
But, it’s worth noting that Mayor Bowser also has submitted a proposal to augment the current-year budget — for fiscal year 2016. Some of these expansions are already in place, and others are proposed and will need DC Council approval.
Supplemental 2016 Funding that’s Already Underway
The proposed supplemental 2016 budget reflects $62 million in spending from one of the city’s rainy day reserves. The federally mandated “contingency” fund can be tapped, among other reasons, for “nonrecurring or unforeseen needs, including severe weather or other natural disasters, unexpected obligations created by federal law, new public safety or health needs after the budget process has occurred,” according to DC’s Chief Financial Officer. Withdrawals from contingency reserves must be replenished within two years.
Mayor Bowser is using contingency reserves this year for $62 million in expenses, and her budget proposes replenishing reserves before the end of the year using savings elsewhere in the budget:
- Snow Removal ($20 million): The District spent these funds on snow removal in response to the massive winter storm Jonas.
- United Medical Center ($10 million): The District made a contribution to United Medical Center, a private hospital in Ward 8. UMC primarily serves residents who have coverage through Medicaid and Medicare and has faced financial challenges in recent years, as have many hospitals across the country with few privately insured patients. UMC receives no regular appropriation from the city.
- Private Ambulances ($9 million): The District started contracting with private ambulance services for non-emergency calls.
- Charter School Enrollment ($8 million): Charter schools received additional funds for higher-than expected enrollment.
- Summer 2016 Programming ($9 million): The mayor committed more funding for summer programing, including $4.8 million for the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, $1.7 million for the Department of Parks and Recreation DPR, $2 for the Children and Youth Investment Trust Collaborative — which makes grants to community based providers of after-school and summer programming — and $300,000 for summer programs at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education.
Proposed Supplemental Spending that Must Be Approved
Beyond that, the FY 2106 supplemental budget calls for additional spending in the following areas that the DC Council must approve:
- Legal Settlements ($12 million): The mayor anticipates higher costs for legal settlements and judgments.
- Payment to DC Water ($4 million): The supplemental provides required payments to DC Water.
- Books from Birth ($88,000): The supplemental adds resources needed to fully fund this new program that sends a book each month to families with young children.
- Emergency Epinephrine in Schools ($450,000): The supplemental proposes to ensure schools have access to emergency epinephrine and training on how to use it.
- Zoning Re-write ($175,000): Supplemental funding is proposed to ensure the city has enough resources for the process of re-writing the zoning code.
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