Wodiska’s Final Word at Falls Church Budget Crisis Work Session: ‘It’s Bad Everywhere’

Falls Church School Board Vice Chair Joan Wodiska, whose day job is as director of an education committee for the National Governor’s Association, had the final word at a lengthy and stress-filled joint work session of the F.C. City Council and School Board by reminding them that the stunning revenue shortages that have surfaced in the F.C. operating budget reflect what’s going on elsewhere.

While some glitches in the calculating of the F.C. budget last spring became the side-show focus of a lot of recriminations and calls for public apologies at the work session, Wodiska reminded the group that, according to a Reuters report, the decline in revenues of state and local budgets across the U.S. averaged 12 percent in the first quarter of 2009, and a staggering 18 percent in the second quarter, the worst shortfalls in the nation’s history.

Last night’s meeting ended with Wodiska’s remark, which was met with a sobering silence, while calls for more information and keeping options open for how to cut $5.6 million out of the City’s $66 million budget gave City officials a lot of work to do before City Manager Wyatt Shields’ proposed deadline for a formal set of recommendations by Oct. 19. The City’s famed “Gang of Eight” (two Council, two School Board, two City Hall and two School Board administrative leaders) is slated to take up the issue Tuesday night, prior to the School Board’s first official crack at the problem, which surfaced suddenly with the report summarizing the last fiscal year by the City’s Chief Financial Officer John Tuohy, Tuesday night.