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Links of the Day:

– It’s possible Mayor Tom Richards is trying to scare everyone by suggesting we close the soccer stadium, ax the mounted patrol, close libraries, cut firefighters and forego parking garage maintenance.

He admitted as much. The Democrat and Chronicle reports:

Shuttering the soccer stadium would save the city $415,700 — something Richards points to as an eventuality if the city doesn’t fix its structural budget problems. Garage maintenance costs the city $1.5 million a year. But would Richards really think of not doing it? “I put it on there just to make a point,” he said, “and hope people will look at it and think, (cutting) that is a dumb thing to do.’”

The mayor will present a bunch of options to the public on how to close a $25 million budget gap. As he did last year, he will ask residents to tell him what’s on and off the table. His strategy gives the public input and makes people take the budget very seriously. While the budget gap is a problem, somehow our mayors manage to solve it every year without huge pain.

The police chief told me last year he valued the mounted the patrol in a report I did on the unit. Police agencies across the country were cutting their mounted units, but not Rochester. I guess times have changed.

The soccer stadium is a rather shocking suggestion. The city and state have millions of dollars invested in the facility. It’s home to the Rhinos and Flash and a number of other activities. While it requires a subsidy, so do other assets. The costs of shutting it down may be more than keeping it open. A giant empty stadium in an already-struggling neighborhood would have consequences.

– Maggie Brooks says it’s too early to talk about her positions on issues. Really?

– I am a fan of playing Beethoven to disperse teen loiterers. This is a hysterical look at weird anti-loitering technologies, including harsh lights that expose acne.

– Why doesn’t Rochester debate tax breaks for developers to this extent?

8 Responses to Is Mayor Trying to Scare Us?

  1. I don’t know that he’s trying to scare us exactly, so much as he’s making a point. While there are some obvious differences, at it’s core it’s really no different than your own household budget.

    You’ve only got $X coming in. You can either spend up to $X or find a way to bring in more than $X (unless of course you want to go into debt). At home this means either getting a second job or cutting back on some cable channels.

    So he’s putting it out to the public – how do you want to close that gap? We can bring in more money (raise taxes, increase fines, etc). We can spend less (library, public safety, soccer stadium, etc). Or we can do a bit of both.

    Personally, I give him credit for asking the public what they want to do, even if it makes some people uncomfortable.

  2. Rather than looking at short-term solutions each year, the City of Rochester needs to think outside the box. Although the term ‘metro’ seems to scare a lot of people, there is nevertheless wisdom in considering areas where county and city resources/departments can be combined.

    Having worked at City Hall for 23 years, I saw much in the way of duplication of services via county and city transactions. Areas I recommend for consolidation are: 1.) combining City and County clerk offices; 2.) combining City and County property assessment offices; 3.) a reassessment of the metro police plan that was considered in 1983; 4.) consideration of a metro school plan; 5.) combining City and County purchasing offices.

    Before retiring from my City Hall position last May, I asked the Office of Public Integrity to look at the practice of ‘change orders’ being submitted by construction companies. I discovered that projects were routinely awarded to low bidders, who later inflated costs by submitting multiple ‘change orders’ (often raising what was originally bid to costs far exceeding what was submitted by high-end competitors). ‘Change Orders’ typically cost the City millions in unanticipated costs each year.

    In any event, it is time for the City of Rochester to think outside the box.

  3. Ooo! I know a good way to make up the budget shortfall! Offer tax incentives to developers so they don’t have to pay taxes on their property and then money magically appears!
    I assume I don’t need the sarcasm tag for that?

    Oh, and Maggie, you throw your hat in the ring, it is now exactly the time to start talking about the issues.

  4. March 21, 2012 at 10:28 am James Simons responds:

    I do think the mayor is trying to to do his due diligence in regards to public input on the budget. However, I have to agree with Ray. This city and entire metro needs to start thinking long term about consolidation of offices, services and programs. I’m not sure why consolidation scares so many people.

    As for Maggie, although I thought it ridiculous she wouldn’t discuss issues (presumably because her “team” hasn’t tested every position to see which would be the best to take), what I found more ludicrous in her statement was her mandatory requirement that employees working on her campaign MUST resign from their county jobs. Did she not recognize the irony in that statement as she made it? She would never dream of stepping down to campaign full time, yet she is asking county employees on her campaign to do the same?

  5. March 21, 2012 at 10:53 am Peking Humonculous responds:

    “The mayor will present a bunch of options to the public on how to close a $25 million budget gap.”

    I’ve got the answer- collect the taxes that are owed on the Sibley building downtown. That money would cover most of, if not all, the budget gap.

  6. March 21, 2012 at 5:56 pm PJ Birkman responds:


    That sounds great, but it probably won’t happen. Any suggestion of consolidation, no matter how much it makes since from a managerial or financial standpoint is immediately rejected out of hand as evil big government or us lazy city types trying to put one over on our hardworking suburban neighbors. Remember Pac Man?

  7. March 21, 2012 at 7:32 pm Kevin Yost responds:

    There are other places for the Rhinos, Rattlers, and WNY Flash to play. Sahlen’s Stadium was a mistake to begin with. The Central Library is important, though.

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