All across America, cities and counties are struggling to balance their budgets amidst the greatest economic downturn since the 1930's. While relatively few have opted to seek Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection or have fallen into state receivership (or are likely to), many elected officials are being forced by circumstances to attack costs and rethink taxes and labor contracts as though they were. This blog is for them, and for all observers of the survivalist knife fight that municipal budgeting has now become.
For cities like Harrisburg and Birmingham, the problems are largely event-driven, with a single project or investment dragging down the entire budget. Some Rust Belt and New England cities have been struggling with the fiscal effects of deindustrialization for years, and are now in complete collapse. Still other cities spent lavishly in boom times only to be caught in an intractable structural squeeze when revenues went south. Superior leadership is saving some of these, while others descend into political chaos.
My hope is that the news and commentary presented in this blog will forewarn and inspire its readers, and help everyone understand that survival in these circumstances is usually all about leadership...and perhaps who plans to run against you in the next election. I welcome your contributions.
Steve A. Steckler, Editor