The government has found enough reserve funds to pay all its city workers through the end of October, even if the federal shutdown continues. As News4's Tom Sherwood reports, the money is available, despite the mayor's harsh criticism of how the shutdown is impacting the city.
Mayor Vincent Gray is still bitterly complaining about how the federal shutdown is straining city resources.
With great fanfare, the mayor famously confronted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Capitol Hill last week, only to be told by Reid that "I’m on your side. Don’t screw it up."
Now, News4 has learned that the city has identified more than $400 million in reserve funds that will keep the city operating the rest of this month. That means all 33,000 city workers who received a paycheck Tuesday also will be paid Oct. 29.
Officials still say that some payments, like for Metro, will be delayed and you still can’t cash winning lottery tickets.
But after scouring the city’s budget and miscellaneous funds, the city now can plan for the rest of the month. One big holdup was whether D.C. Attorney General Irving Nathan would approve spending the funds.
Sources told News4 that his staff prepared a memo doing just that, although Nathan had not yet signed the memo late Tuesday. The mayor’s office declined to confirm the found money, saying more details needed to be worked out and that "no transfer" of funds had yet occurred.
But D.C. Council finance and revenue chairman Jack Evans said the city has lined up the money.
Some of it would need approval from the D.C. Council, but Evans said that posed no problem.
“Everything this slowed down right now because we’re down to our last $32 million,” Evans said in a late-afternoon interview.
He said the new reserve funds will ease the city’s burdens.
According to officials, the money includes about $300 million from a cash flow reserve; about $58 million in a fiscal stabilization fund, and about $110 million in a routine emergency fund.
The District has an annual budget of about $11 billion and a reserve fund that tops $1.5 billion.
However, there are restrictions on how much of that money can be used or shifted around. Both the mayor and council want congress to exempt the city from federal shutdowns and are looking forward to this one ending.
"We want them to wrap up as soon as possible, not only for the city but for the country as a whole," Evans said.