City Carefully Watching Cash Flow

As the city anxiously awaits a Sept. 8 vote on legislation that would provide budget relief, Finance Director Rob Dubow says he is carefully watching the city's bank balance.

"As you know, our cash flow situation is pretty tight," Dubow said today. Last month, the city started withholding most vendor payments in an effort to preserve cash. Only payroll, benefits, debt service and payments deemed emergencies are being made at the moment.

Dubow said that because they are withholding cash, the city should be able to last several months. But he stressed that they hope state relief will happen soon.

Next week, the state House of Representatives will vote on House Bill 1828, which would allow the city to temporarily raise the sales tax and defer some pension payments. Those items -- worth $700 million over five years -- are key to balancing the city budget. If the state doesn’t approve the city's budget requests, the mayor will have to implement a dire budget that would prompt layoffs of 3,000 city workers.

But in addition to the hold-up on HB 1828, the city has been strained on two other financial fronts, Dubow said. The unresolved state budget is holding up reimbursements that the city counts on for social services provided. And because the city budget is in flux, officials have been unable to do some standard short-term borrowing to cover bills.

If HB1828 passes, the city should be able to borrow money, Dubow said. But state reimbursments won't happen until the state budget is resolved, which means the city's finances will still be under some pressure.