Fiscal Issues Take Center Stage For Campaigns
From the Capital Tonight morning memo:
As Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner faces a competitive Democratic primary this September, the state of the city’s finances have coming to the political forefront.
As YNN’s excellent Bill Carey noted yesterday, Miner’s opponents, Patrick Hogan and Alphonso Davis, believe Miner hasn’t been a good steward of city budgets during her time in office.
“Bankruptcy looms over the City of Syracuse and it looms because of her poor mismanagement. It looms because of her lack of direction to take the city in the right direction,” Davis said in an interview with Carey.
Syracuse, of course, is not the only city facing financial hardship with its increasing built-in costs and shrinking tax base.
But Miner has made the city through her public efforts the poster child in many ways for municipal governments on the brink of going broke.
Miner is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s hand-picked party co-chairwoman, but raised eyebrows earlier this year when she publicly broke from the governor when it came to his pension smoothing proposal.
Miner went nuclear, going as far as writing an op/ed in The New York Times charging that the state isn’t doing enough to help upstate cities and local governments that face long-term problems.
A bankruptcy of Detroit’s proportions — both in financial and symbolic impact — in New York state at this point does not seem likely. However, smaller local governments are edging closer and closer to reaching the point of not being able to pay their obligations.
Upstate municipalities are mired in debt.
And for local offiicials, the reforms in Albany have been around the edges: A new pension tier with benefits that would be seen for at least a decade, a local government restructuring board that relies on labor’s participation and local aid payments that haven’t increased.
For the Cuomo administration, throwing more money at the problem of local government finances hasn’t been the first impulse.
Indeed, the governor says he doesn’t want to spend precious resources on a city where officials can’t or won’t make unsavory decisions that would end structural budgetary problems.
The hesitance to toss more money at a situation is on display in Rockland County, it would seem, as the governor’s office is reportedly asking for more information from local officials there as Cuomo mulls signing a bill that would authorize the county to borrow $96 million in order to pay down most of its budget deficit, estimated to be as high as $110 million.
Keep in mind, Rockland is one of the more affluent areas of the state, where residents commute to Westchester and New York City to work, but has been mismanaged to the point where it has one of the lowest credit ratings of any county.
The local government restructuring at the very least is another go-round at encouraging local governments to bite the bullet and consolidate their services, boards, agencies and any other redundant functions they just don’t need or afford.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on July 26, 2013 at 11:59 am, and is filed under NYS Budget. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|