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D.C. Council Chief Paints Worrisome Picture Of City's Budget Outlook

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By Mana Rabiee

The head of the D.C. Council is painting a worrisome picture of the city's budget outlook, saying the District could face a more-than $600 million budget shortfall by the end of the next fiscal year.

Council Chairman Vincent Gray says the city faces a budget gap of nearly $225 million for this year alone.

"There's no question that we face an enormously difficult task," says Gray.

Gray says the 2010 shortfall is due to over spending by individual city departments including corrections, human services and education.

The city's emergency reserve also fell from nearly $1.5 billion in 2008 to approximately $920 million today -- mostly because of declining revenue and previous budget gaps.

Gray is pushing "emergency legislation " to require Mayor Adrian Fenty to spell out how he will compensate for this year's excess spending.

"We've got to get on top of this now. We want a plan from the Mayor that will explain how this will happen," he says.

The Mayor's office issued a statement saying he will take immediate measures to manage agency spending and will present a revised 2010 budget on April 1.

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