- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 27, 2001

At its last meeting before officially expiring Sunday, the D.C. financial control board officially handed control over the city back to D.C. leaders.
"We're leaving the city in capable hands," said Chairman Alice M. Rivlin. "The financial situation is light years better. I'm very glad we have gotten to the point where the authority can go out of business."
Five years after Congress instituted the five-member control board to help restore financial stability to a city with a projected deficit of more than $500 million, the District has bounced back with a favorable bond rating, balanced budgets for four consecutive years, and a budget surplus of at least $240 million in each of the past three years, control board officials said.
To get there, the control board has tried to tackle mismanagement, a bloated bureaucracy and reckless spending. In doing so, the panel oversaw the public schools, public safety and other government agencies.
Yesterday, it concluded business by restoring power over the Metropolitan Police Department to D.C. officials and granted authority to the District's school board to dispose of surplus school properties.
While waxing optimistic over the city's current leadership, Mrs. Rivlin cautioned that the city has difficult challenges ahead because of a narrow revenue stream as a result of its unique relationship with the federal government.
"Concerns over the fiscal future of the District remain," Mrs. Rivlin said. "These can't be fixed by another authority or by the District. The District finances state and city functions without a state to help it."
She said the control board also is concerned over the fallout of the Sept. 11 attacks.
City officials have grown increasingly alarmed over the decline of the hospitality industry, which could cost the city up to $80 million in tax revenue by next year. They also point to the continued closure of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
Regardless, members said they were glad to be leaving.
"It was a worthwhile exercise, but I hope there is no need for a financial control board to come into existence again," said member Robert Watkins.
The control board expires at midnight Sunday.

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