With the District facing a $323 million budget shortfall, the D.C. Council is looking longingly at the city’s “rainy-day” fund, a contingency cash reserve that totals 3 percent of the budget. But the relief comes with a stiff price: All monies must be paid back within one year. Maybe the District should look elsewhere—say, to the World Bank, which happens to be meeting in town. The bank bailed out Argentina with $2.5 billion in 1999. What could it do for D.C.? Here’s how the options stack up:
Funding Source: D.C. Contingency Reserve, or “rainy-day,” fund
Purpose: “May be used, if needed, to cover revenue shortfalls.”
Payment terms: Zero percent interest; one-year term
Requirements: D.C. chief financial officer must analyze potential impacts of allocation and other options.
Catch: Must replenish all monies allocated during the following year.
Funding Source: World Bank Special Structural Adjustment Loan
Purpose: Available to borrowers “facing an actual or potential financial crisis.”
Payment terms: Variable interest, starting at the six-month London InterBank Offered Rate (currently 1.77 percent); eight-year term
Requirements: District must qualify as a “developing country.”
Catch: May require market-friendly regulatory reforms. —Chris Shott
Sources: D.C. Official Code (1-204.50a); World Bank Lending Instruments Brochure.