But that's not stopping Councilman William Peduto, who is likely to challenge Ravenstahl in the spring mayoral primary, from criticizing the mayor's budget and five-year spending plan for including "phantom revenues" in the form of state grants and donations from nonprofits.I began to wonder. While the above is pretty clear, I wondered whether a fuller definition could be found someplace - more examples of "phantom revenues" and so on.
"This is no different than what we were doing in 2002 when (former Mayor) Tom Murphy came up with minimal reductions in expenditures and revenues that didn't exist," Peduto said. [emphasis added]
It isn't the first time Coucilman Peduto used the phrase to describe the city budget. Nor is the phrase exclusively Peduto's . From the Trib in December, 2004, in an article describing Mayor Murphy's (remember him??) decision not to run again:
Throughout the past year, Murphy repeatedly said he was taking responsibility for the city's near-insolvency. In a move that stunned some political observers, Murphy last month finally owned up to submitting "phony" budgets -- city spending plans balanced by one-time Band-Aids or based on phantom revenue.From Peduto, we have this from the P-G in April, 2005:
Peduto said O'Connor did little to stop Murphy's "phantom" budget for 2003, which was balanced with unapproved payroll and alcohol taxes and ultimately plunged the city into near-bankruptcy. Peduto tried to replace the phantom taxes with a garbage collection fee and other plans.I think "unapproved" is the important part. And this from November, 2005:
Peduto said other problems persist. For example, the mayor's proposed 2006 budget still calls for $6.6 million even though the nonprofits have pledged only $4.4 million.It even showed up in an interview I did with him in September. Take a look:
"Put what the revenues really are, instead of using phantom revenues and placeholders like we did in the past," Peduto said.
The most important issue facing the near-term future of Pittsburgh, Peduto said, is the budget. Not necessarily the 2007 budget, but the financial problems facing the city in the next 5 years or so. How the city deals with its budgetary issues now will detemine its overall health for many more years to come.So now we have another example - the projected revenues from Casinos not yet built. There's more from this P-G article from Mid-October:
He said that he'll be paying close attention to upcoming revenue projects - to spot any "phantom revenue" plans that might pop up. Started a couple of years before Act47 was implemented, "phantom revenue" streams (like revenue projections from the Casinos not yet built) have, according to Peduto, left the city on the 'brink of bankruptcy." The practice of relying on "phantom revenue" needs to be broken, he said. City government needs to be restructured with some services merged with the County, he said. [emphasis added]
Mr. Peduto said he's concerned about "phantom revenues" in the proposed budget and five-year plan. It counts on $17.7 million from a yet-to-be-built slots casino next year, $10 million from the state each year, and $5.7 million annually from nonprofit groups starting in 2008 -- none of which is guaranteed, he said.Now we have some more examples. Anything that's added to the budget as revenue that isn't guaranteed or could possibly shift downward (like non-profit donations) is then called "phantom revenue."
Looking back at the P-G article I linked to yesterday, I wonder if these too are "phantom revenues":
Mr. Peduto said the five-year plan overestimates deed transfer and parking taxes, and state and nonprofit contributions. That, he said, would lead to yawning deficits beginning in 2008.Can I use an adage here? Isn't "phantom revenue" an example of "counting your chickens before they hatch"?
A consortium of nonprofit groups has said it doesn't plan to give the city money after 2007, but the city's plan counts on $5.7 million a year from such organizations through 2011.
If so, and since the Mayor is dealing with millions and millions of dollars isn't it, uh well, incredibly unwise to do so?
I'm just asking.