BY RON YORK
The economic panic of 2008-2009 appears to be nearing the bottom. With yesterday's report of housing starts up briskly for the first time in many months and the bevy of economic data released this past week, the end appears in sight. As I reported on February 24th, the housing market is starting to emerge from its blue funk.
I still believe that the bottom for the economy will occur sometime this summer, but it could be even sooner, maybe as early as May. Based on data available today, the worse months are behind us - probably December and January.
Unfortunately for us, the hangover for local governments will last much longer. The last go around, 2001, it took nearly eighteen months for cities to recover. I do not think it will be as long this time, but it will be at least twelve months. Assuming that recovery begins exactly on July 1, 2009 and it arrives at your city hall on July 1, 2010, and your city stalls until April 1, 2011 to release its FYE 2010 audit, you are looking at two more years of your city singing the blues. After the FYE 2010 audit is released, they will have been "busted" and will be force into giving it up. (Current economic conditions have to be disclosed in the MDA of the CAFR)
Two years is an eternity if you are the association president and your members are watching the news and demanding that you bring home the money. The situation is further aggravated by your city behaving like "Mr. Potter." The next two years will be times of tough negotiations. More attention will have to be given to contemporaneous economic statistics than the city's historical financial reports (CAFR).
Daylight is starting to break, but we are a long way from being home. Yesterday despair, tomorrow hope, today the battle.