Dear Alderman Aram Ayalon,
I am writing in response to your recent criticisms of Mayor Stewart's proposed budget, and I would like to share some important context regarding the issues you raised. It has come to my attention that, to date, you have not attended or spoken at any Board of Finance and Taxation (BFT) meetings where these concerns could have been addressed.
In my two years serving on the BFT, I have actively raised the very concerns you mentioned in your critique. In fact, during our discussions with the City's Underwriter, we were informed that additional principal payments are not currently an option for the City's outstanding debt. The Underwriter suggested "Cash Redemption" as an alternative, which involves buying back bonds through the secondary market from current investors and bondholders. Another option the Underwriter presented is Refunding or Restructuring Debt, which the City already practices when the market offers better interest rates.
As for your concerns regarding education funding, I have consistently advocated for increased support during my time on the BFT. While my initial suggestions were not well-received in my first year, I am pleased to report that this year I made a motion to increase education funding that was unanimously backed by the entire BFT.
I understand and appreciate your dedication to addressing these critical issues for our city. However, I encourage you to attend and participate in the BFT meetings, where your voice and perspective would be valuable. Collaborative discussions during these meetings provide an opportunity for all stakeholders to work together to find effective solutions to the challenges our city faces.
By participating in the BFT meetings, you will be in a better position to understand the complexities surrounding the City's financial decisions and contribute to meaningful change. I look forward to your involvement in future meetings and working together for the betterment of our community.
Member, Board of Finance and Taxation