Posted at 11:37 AM on May 8, 2008
by Tim Nelson
St. Paul is going broke.
This is actually the first year in many that I haven't watched from the 3rd floor windows at City Hall as the trees leaf out on Kellogg Boulevard. But I took at least some comfort this week, as both papers reported multi-million dollar budget deficit projections in St. Paul.
Some things do never change.
The number goes up and down, but it's practically as reliable as a spring ice out. I went back and looked, out of curiosity, at what had been reported for the last 10 years.
Here's the rundown of projected "next year" deficits, as reported in April and May of the listed year.
2008: $13.1 million
2007: $16 million
2006: $16.5 million
2005: $16 million
2004: $17 million
2003: $33 million
2002: $6 million
2001: ($10 million)
2000: $7.3 million
1999: $7 million
There was no mention of a deficit in the spring of 2001 (heady days, indeed!), although I'll credit Norm Coleman for that year trying, unsuccessfully, to give out a $10 million tax rebate. All told, it adds up to about $106 million in total projected deficits.
Drop the rebate outlier and the conflagration of 2003 and its about $12.3 million, on average per year.
Now, go out and enjoy the day.
I'm out visiting my mother (and, yes, helping around the house, although I fell off the roof trying to take an old weathervane down the other day, so I'm limping more than helping).
It's your typical New England milltown; the type that turned out that products that helped build the country in its heyday -- the type that immigrants -- first the Finns, then the Italians, then the French Canadians -- found refuge and jobs and then prosperity in.
The mills are mostly gone now. The origins of the immigrants have changed. And the city is $5 million debt (Fitchburg is now a city of 39,000. Compare that to St. Paul's population of about 287,000. My city has not quite a third of the deficit, with about 1/7 the population).
The senior center just lopped one more day off its already-cut hours. The library --we only have one, and its especially important since there's no bookstore in the city -- has decided to close four days a week and is only open 12-7 on Tues, Weds, and Thurs now.
The streets are buckling. The bridges crumbling.
No matter how bad it gets in St. Paul; St. Paul has it good.
My city helped build the country. It deserved better.
Your post is a story in itself Bob.
at your list of projected deficit, do you think that the 1999 projection of 7 mil has alost doubled to 13 mil because prices have doubled and that we are really staying at the same rate of increase of deficit that we were in in 1999? (i am trying to articulate this thought as clearly as possible even though reading my post over reads alittle foggy)