IMPROVING THE OPERATING BUDGET PROCESS
The city of New York has hailed its recovery from the 1975 fiscal crisis with pride and relief, and it reserved its fullest celebration for the "sunset" of the state's Financial Control Board (FCB) on June 30, 1986. In attendance at the plenary meeting of the board--which was held in open air on the steps of City Hall--were most of the dignitaries who had played powerful and public roles in the early structuring of the fiscal recovery. The recovery period, originally expected to take three years, was redefined in 1978, and in the end it took over ten years for the city to demonstrate, as required by law, that it had achieved recurring budget balance, recovery of market access, and repayment of debt guaranteed by the federal government in the years following the crisis.
The event at City Hall marked the lapsing of the FCB's power to approve the city's four-year financial plans. Through this function the state of New York had been involved in enforcing long-range fiscal planning by the city and could ultimately control the aggregate expenditure levels of the locality. Thus the justifiably congratulatory and self-congratulatory speakers on the steps of City Hall celebrated the hard-won return of "home rule" to the city of New York, amid some nostalgia for the challenging if problematic days that lay behind them.
There were many reasons for pride and relief at the reduction of the FCB's oversight powers, particularly in light of the magnitude of the problems the