I have been Chairman of the Board of Finance since 2015 and have worked diligently to balance the need for the City to provide services while controlling the annual increase in the mill rate. In 2020, at the onset of the pandemic, the Board of Finance, with myself as chairman, led a process involving both the administration and the Board of Representatives that resulted in a 0% tax increase. The Board of Finance has taken an active role in limiting the use of spending of Federal stimulus money for one-time purposes only, mostly capital spending on our roads and in our schools, and not for recurring expenses.
Paying for the necessary capital spending in our schools, and balancing that need against other needs for capital spending across the city, is the greatest challenge for the next Mayor, Board of Finance, Board of Representatives and Board of Education. In addition to my service on the Board of Finance, I am a former president of the Board of Education and have an intimate understanding as to the needs of our students and the shortcomings of our school buildings. There is unfortunately no simple solution to this problem as the city does not have anywhere near the bonding capacity to pay for all the school improvements that are needed. The solution will be a combination of greater outside funding, more cost-effective construction management and choosing priorities as to which schools are addressed first.
Besides paying for renovations to our schools, the largest challenge is paying for our deferred pension liabilities. The best approach is a combination of continued full funding our pensions, better investment management of our pension assets, particularly the Police and Fire pension funds, and continuing the work of Mayor Martin's administration to address pension benefits in the course of ongoing labor negotiations.