You could also say it has the Whitman administration's fingerprints all over it - including those of Robert Law, the fiscal monitor assigned by Trenton to Camden last summer to ensure the audit's recommendations are met.
Released a year ago, the audit criticized the city's government as awash in mismanagement and patronage, and found that one out of every five tax dollars in Camden was wasted.
Afterward, Law worked daily with Camden Business Administrator Patrick J. Keating Jr.; a task force, led by members of the Rowan College Institute for Urban and Public Policy, held many meetings to address the audit; and Webster and the Council battled in the name of improving management.
Despite various improvements, however, Trenton kept reminding the city that state law mandates that annual fiscal budgets be adopted in September.
At one point during negotiations with the state, Webster agreed to lay off 67 workers for a $600,000 savings, but then changed his mind so as not to cause hardship during the holiday season.
Trenton grew agitated, but in what a state spokesman called an ``exhaustive search for resources,'' several stop-gap measures emerged in recent weeks to save Camden $8 million and help produce the balanced budget.
Pending approval from the state legislature, the city could finance, over five years, more than $3 million in severance benefits it owes to retired policemen and firefighters. The city just does not have that money now.
Other state agencies would provide $4.4 million worth of assistance. Keating said the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, for instance, will give $2.2 million as a down payment on still-to-be-determined, municipal-owned properties that Camden will transfer to the state.
The state also will allow the city use all of a $700,000 surplus in its water utility's budget, and the police department will put about $150,000 from the Urban Enterprise Zone toward salaries and services.
``Obviously, there are serious and fundamental financial problems when a municipality has as much state involvement in a budget as Camden does,'' said Christopher Wolf, spokesman for the state Department of Community Affairs.
The state is also allowing the city to apply all of a $3 million surplus toward its 1997 spending plan. Now Camden will not have any surplus.
Addressing a sore spot in the audit, Keating said the budget projects $5.3 million in overtime for firefighters and police officers. But he stressed that with 38 new police officers and 32 firefighters having joined the workforce this fiscal year, overtime should be greatly reduced next time. The fiscal year runs through June.
Keating also said Camden would spend about $15,000 to relocate several departments and offices to the second floor of City Hall. The audit found that the offices were too scattered to maximize efficiency and tax savings.
Webster and his aides had expected the City Council to formally introduce the budget at the special meeting and then schedule a hearing for March 6.
But led by Milton Milan, the Council's president, who is challenging Webster in the May 13 mayoral election, the governing body promptly shelved it for at least two weeks, saying it wanted more time to review the budget.
``We will move expeditiously,'' Milan said.
Maybe so, but it now appears the budget will not be adopted before late March, or about six weeks before the mayoral election.
The state is not happy.
``This budget is long overdue, and unfortunately it is a spending plan for the final months of the fiscal year for which it was intended,'' Wolf said.