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.