Updated: Feb. 19, 2015 at 11:52 a.m.
This post was written by Hatchet reporter Sophie Kaplan.
Mayor Muriel Bowser highlighted her plans for creating next year’s citywide budget and solving homelessness at the Foggy Bottom and West End Advisory Neighborhood Commission on Wednesday night, sharing her goals for the future of D.C. after her first month and a half in office.
Bowser said her primary concern was creating the new budget for the city in order to “close the $80 million gap.” Instead of hearing from D.C. residents after she writes the budget, Bowser said she’ll hold three budget engagement forums before she puts pen to paper, a move that breaks from how past D.C. mayors have funded the city’s programs. Former Mayor Vincent Gray, an alumnus, used to give budget presentations in different areas of the city after the plan was created to show residents how the funds would be distributed.
“We started our engagement process to hear from the people first before making [the budget,]” Bowser said.
Philip Schrefer, an ANC commissioner, asked Bowser whether or not she will increasing the salaries for her staff. She said that her distribution for salaries were 5 percent less than last administration.
“It is hard to negotiate a salary when they know how much the last person made,” Bowser said, calling her staff “energetic and competitive people”.
The mayor also held a question-and-answer session, taking questions from other members of the advisory board like William Kennedy Smith, who asked her how she planned to get homeless people off the streets. Bowser said D.C. cannot tackle the issue with one solution because homelessness can stem from various situations.
She added that D.C. will “go back” to giving homeless people housing first, which she said is part of her plan to end family homelessness by 2018.
“We have approached homelessness as a monolith,” she said. “If we are really serious about dealing with homelessness, this is the price.”