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Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he wants the state’s regions to control their own destinies. But his aides are floating the idea of fiscal control boards for the state’s cities.

The New York Post‘s Fred Dicker wrote Rochester, Syracuse and Yonkers are “close to bankruptcy” and looking for state bailouts:

“The mayors have got to come to the state with a plan that explains what’s causing their problems and how they plan to solve it. To come to us year after year for a handout as they have been doing, only to come back next year asking for the same handout, is a nonstarter. It doesn’t work,’’ said a Cuomo administration source.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and others have raised the specter of a statewide “control board’’ to oversee the finances of troubled communities, but the source said Cuomo is not considering such a move.

But a second source said, “Individual control boards for the cities are possible and, in some cases, likely.’’

As the name implies, control boards take away local control. They’re based on the premise a city is so messed up, it can’t be trusted to run its own finances.

Syracuse’s mayor was outraged by the report, telling the Post-Standard:

“I don’t believe for a second the governor authorized or knew of a statement whereby his staff would refer to the Upstate cities as beggars,” (Stephanie) Miner said. “People in the city of Syracuse are not beggars.”

There’s no question New York’s cities face enormous fiscal pressures. Their populations have shrunk. Their property tax bases have declined. Their industries have suffered. Their residents are poorer with greater needs. They carry large pension burdens from rosier times. They cannot tax their way out of the problem, because the state enacted a property tax cap and their residents don’t have the means.

The plight of New York’s cities is the result of decades of sprawl without growth.

Throughout its decline, Rochester has managed to maintain an excellent credit rating. It has cut hundreds of jobs over the years. It has lived under a state aid formula that pays its Upstate neighbors far more per capita. It has lived under a law requiring it to pay far more for schools than other cities. But this is not sustainable. There is a structural imbalance with the city’s budget.

It’s imperative the state help cities. They are the center of our civic, cultural and economic lives. They are important. They must not be allowed to rot or treated with disdain.

Rochester Mayor Tom Richards put it this way in his State of the City speech:

Cities do not exist to produce a balanced budget. They are vehicles for delivering services that create and preserve the quality of life that attracts people to urban centers. Cities will first face cultural and social bankruptcy before they encounter financial bankruptcy. We will be forced to cut services that make city living attractive, negatively impacting our quality of life. Libraries, recreation centers, festivals, fireworks and much of the investment that you saw earlier in this presentation are the sorts of things that get cut on the way to bankruptcy. And it is just such cuts that force those who would consider living in our city to make other choices.

Links of the Day:

– Good news for High Falls. More private investment in housing and offices is coming. (But I don’t think it’s dependent on MCC.)

– An optics plant on St. Paul St. has been refurbished. It’s a great story of a historical building and an immigrant who found success.

– Meet the Bills season ticket-holder who drives six hours to games.

– Heartbreaking story of a former state lawmaker’s struggles with his schizophrenic son.

– Sorry Edward Murrow, not much has changed.

– Stories like this make me insane. A Nebraska TV reporter leaves for another job and gets sued for breaking her contract. If the station thought she was so valuable, perhaps it should have paid her more than $28,000.

9 Responses to Give Cities Some Respect

  1. October 16, 2012 at 10:14 am Peking Humonculous responds:

    “They’re based on the premise a city is so messed up, it can’t be trusted to run its own finances.”

    And how exactly does Rochester not fit this category?

  2. October 16, 2012 at 11:17 am theodore kumlander responds:

    ny post fred dicker is probaly on Mitt Rommnys payroll. what i find interesting is the press is supposed to print the truth and the facts but instead we get bought and paid for propganda.

  3. I have no pity for the city of Rochester and its problems. They are self induced. The solutions are obvious. Unfortunately, the city Is unable to enact the obvious. They need to reduce spending on salaries and benefits without elliminating jobs. They need to spend less. It will never happen. Their base for their political existence is unions and the social services. The city is toast.

  4. Proof once again that #1 & #2 are really Republicans masquerading as Democrats just to feed their own egos and desire for power. Those 2 are more to the right than Rockafeller ever was. Duffy wanted control boards when he was mayor but ducked any responsibility for his own administration’s mismanagement. Anyone that fails to see this is being willfully ignorant or is part of the problem. We deserve the gov’t we vote in because we ‘The People’ have allowed ‘The Party’ on each side to control public debate instead of ‘The Party’ reflecting what ‘The People’ want. The Media has been complicit in this instead of remaining unbiased. See pictures from any years Mayor’s Ball and it is a who’s who of local media members. It IS after all a fundraiser, not a civic event. But like the DC based media that hangs with POTUS et al like their drinking buddy it is no longer about ‘Cronkite’ reporting, it is about entertainment.

  5. Exactly the City of Rochester’s problems are self induced. Did we need to spend 1M on a second walking bridge to the UR? If the UR wants it let them pay. Do we need to have a city funded restaurant for 1M with a Matre De making 240K a year in Charlotte competing with tax paying small business owners in the area? Millions spent studying Charlotte for a Marina? 10M on the public market improvements? There are many more .. .MANY boasted about on this BLOG. Does this sound like the right way to run a city that HAS NO MONEY? IF you don’t have it don’t spend it. IF you Do spend what you don’t have thats your fault, don’t expect state taxpayers to bail you out! ITs all also because there is no check and balance in the CITY as there is only one party rule. Yet the D&C complains about the REPs in the county.

    • Pier 45 not only competes against tax paying restaurants, it does so paying no sales taxes on supplies. And is still loses boatloads of money a year. And yet the city of Rochester will go cup in hand to Albany to beg for money.

  6. NYC was broke once and the federal government wouldn’t help much. With a lot of pressure and time the city was saved. It grew its population through immigration and prospered under them. Disney actually helped renovate Times Square back into a place people loved to visit. The wealthy and middle class actually want to come back. If Cuomo rejects the desperation of the cities and continues with ill conceived tax cap it would be on his head. He wants to run for president? As for city pay, it is probably only the middle class pay many people in the city receive. They are not the problem. Some city programs seem more acts of desperation but the situation is desperate. The problem in the city are many citizens without money, unions, and healthcare. A city cant thrive without employment that provides middle class wages and has a large number of poor. The wealthy such as U of R demand concessions for being in the city and force the tax payers to pay.

  7. Control Boards would be great for the citizens of Rochester. Right now City Hall is cutting services, while they build these grandiose boondoggles. City government exists to police, fight fires, pick up trash, keep the street lights on, plow streets, and keep water flowing. Right now they are more concerned about tearing up broad street for a 1/4 canal to no where and building a marina for the rich. A control board would get rid of all this frivolous spending.

  8. “The plight of New York’s cities is the result of decades of sprawl without growth.” Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

    There has been TONS of growth. Growth in spending, that is. How much did the city sink into High Falls gin mills? How many millions did the City of Rochester throw away on the fast ferry? Remember, this is a city that just gave Tom Wilmot a $20 million Christmas present because his bet on casino gambling didn’t work out for the Sibley building. Urban sprawl the cause of this? No way.

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