- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 10, 2000

A Senate panel yesterday approved allocating $4 million to reimburse the Metropolitan Police Department for its costs in providing security during last month's anti-World Bank/International Monetary Fund demonstrations.
"Because of the national stature of the World Bank-IMF events, it is only appropriate that the federal government pay its fair share," said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican and chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the District of Columbia.
D.C. officials had requested $4 million from the federal government to recoup the police department's overtime costs, which amounted to about one-third of the force's $15 million annual overtime budget.
Police officials also asked to be reimbursed $400,000 for gear that was purchased specifically for the demonstrations.
"It's very good news and it is essential for us," said Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer. "We would be in dire straits if we do not get that money."
Chief Gainer said that, without the reimbursement, funds for the police department's mobile force and officers' overtime pay would have been jeopardized.
Yesterday, Mrs. Hutchison also approved D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams' request to change the requirement that the city add $150 million to its reserve fund each year.
Instead, the city now is required to keep $150 million in reserve each year, allowing D.C. officials to spend the reserve's surpluses on services and other programs.
"This eases the pressure on the budget, there's no question about it, but we need to look at long-term expenditures," Mr. Williams said after meeting with Mrs. Hutchison's panel yesterday.
City officials spent $18 million earmarked for this year's reserve fund requirement to pay for safeguarding government computers against the anticipated year-2000 glitch.
The mayor also met yesterday with the D.C. Council, with whom he has been at odds on budget matters. After a two-hour meeting, the mayor and the council were no closer to agreement.
"We have already used some [reserve funds] for Y2K, but the rest I'd like to find elsewhere in the budget," Mr. Williams said. "So we can just go into the next year clean."
Mr. Williams would like to use money allocated for the fiscal 2001 reserve fund on programs like charter schools. Moreover, he would like to spend as much as two-thirds of the District's tobacco settlement on programs like health care.
But the council supports a much more conservative plan that includes saving about 75 percent of the tobacco money, said council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat.
"We're still in flux. I think it's a little early to be spending," Mr. Evans said. "We've put together a budget that is balanced and doesn't use any tobacco and reserve settlement money," Mr. Evans said.
The District is expected to receive more than $48.9 million this year and an overall figure of $1.2 billion over 25 years from the tobacco money. The settlement stems from a nationwide legal effort to make six major tobacco manufacturers reimburse states and the District for the health care costs they incurred because of smoking-related illnesses.
The mayor and the council are scheduled to meet again today.

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