Mayor Bloomberg sent out a memo to his top staffers and the heads of city agencies warning that a downturn in financial markets could mean difficult budgetary times in the future. Despite the current budget surplus, Bloomberg warned against superfluous hiring by all city agencies and stated that the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mark Page, will be scrutinizing all agency increases to make sure they are limited to "strictly necessary hires." The opening paragraph of the memo, which the Daily News received a copy of and made available online, highlights Bloomberg's governance-as-business style of management.
As you are aware, the City's economy depends in no small measure on the profitability and success of Wall Street and the financial services industry. Recent events in the financial markets are, therefore, a subject of deep concern. Capital market losses mean fewer tax revenues for our budget and fiscal plan. A slower real estate market means fewer transaction tax revenues – again, hurting our bottom line.
The penultimate sentence of the memo notes that this is a precautionary memo, but that agency heads should be prepared for more draconian steps. "Although budget reductions are not being directed at this time,such reductions may be necessary in the coming months
," [underlining Bloomberg's]. The Daily News notes that such unpleasant memos are usually delegated to the Mayor's budget czar, but this year Bloomberg decided to write it himself. We suspect that the Mayor's favorite fable by Æsop is The Ant and the Grasshopper.