Everything You Wanted to Know About Why No Developers Invest in Amsterdam

If you want to truly understand why developers and investors flee from Amsterdam, you need read no more than this article in the Mohawk Valley Compass. Council weighs risks of assisting Deer Run project
It’s truly epic in displaying everything wrong with the current Council ostensibly in charge of the city’s policy and interests: the arrogance, the utter cluelessness on finance and budgets, the lack of due diligence on complex issues… I could go on.
But you know what’s even more disconcerting? The same group that never wants the city to take ownership of its own development — you know, the folks who always point to ‘the County’ as the owners of economic development for the city– now don’t like the county owning the project so they want, you guessed it, AIDA to do it. In other words, the Council wants someone else to do it instead of figuring a way they can do it, when it’s quite clear that they can do it. And it’s quite clear that the Council exhibits no strategy to how to drive development to the city as they solely rely on outside agencies and actors.
It’s an epic joke.
Read it.
And weep.
And consider that this mindset , decades old, is what keeps the city from moving forward.
 

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15 Responses

  1. Diane says:

    For years I have attended the Zoning and Planning Bd meetings. I know that Rich Leggiero has stayed on top of this Project since it is in the 5th Ward. Any issues have been resolved and the neighbors are in favor of the project to the best of my knowledge.
    However, one time last year this was brought to our attention but there has been no follow up by the administration. We have very public meetings twice a month when these issues can be brought forward by the mayor, but she has chosen not to. Our meetings are held in the council chambers and all media is invited to attend along with the public. The mayor routinely puts issues on the agenda and we also have committee meetings and committee of the whole meetings before the council meetings………We also have an email system that does work, yet the mayor does not reach out to the aldermen in this manner. We are summoned to city hall to her office for a meeting that could have been added to our next meeting. Now that the county has passed the project, it should have been added to our calendar for public discussion. Instead we ask questions and instead of answering them, the mayor replies with, “so you do not want the project” ? Last night Alderman Barone asked legitimate questions only to be curtly rebuffed by the mayor. We have questions and deserve answers to those questions, not to be treated like school age children.
    And how did we find out we were being treated to a civility class………from the newspaper ! The mayor has a history for the past 7 years of treating all the aldermen with contempt and disrespect. But, trying to put her best foot forward for another election run, she continues to treat us with condescension. She has gone so far as not to present the state of the city address to the council, but instead invites everyone, by invitation to a social event at city hall. We are not Saratoga and to think that we have to hold a reception for this is arrogance on her part. By charter this was to have been presented on or before the 15th……..not the 30th !!
    This project is important not only to the city and its residents, but to our finances. It will require some sort of bond. In December of 2012, at that time, Auditor Daryl Puriton stated in writing, we did not have enough revenue to support our expenses. So I would recommend we carefully review our current debt, any matching grants that have been awarded and take a look at everything before we jump into something. We have a financial obligation to the taxpayers first.
    This council member and others are tired of the mayor blaming us for inaction, when it is she that has sued the common council, and then put up a gag order, and technically still requires us to report to her on meetings with department heads. We are all adults, we do not belong at the bottom of the river as she said about a previous council……..we need to be allowed to do our jobs unfettered by her.

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      Diane,
      Your response highlights my criticisms of the Council in my recent posts — it totally avoids addressing issues of substance — development and progress — to focus on the power dynamics between the Council and Mayor. I’m sure there are a number of people in the community like me who want action and planning on substantive issues versus the other distractions and sideshows.
      Again on the issue of finances, you seem to totally dismiss what our current Comptroller is saying in 2015 choosing instead to cite an opinion from 2012 even though the books have undergone massive changes since then:
      Controller Matthew Agresta answered, “You keep saying ‘we don’t know where we are’ like we’re driving lost in the woods. We can’t necessarily justify ‘up to current’ certain things that you want to know. But we have another, I believe, $20 million we could take on in debt service given our financial situation. So a $500,000 bond is not something that we can’t do.”
      I’m as flustered as probably Mr. Agresta is at the unwillingness to engage on the actual financials versus all the talking points on the perceived financials.
      Let’s be clear on the politics: the misinformation and uncertainty on the financials ostensibly helps your party against Mayor Thane given the constant drumbeat by you and your party and our local media. But I think you’re overplaying your hand as people are starting to see that this is not about taxpayers or running things like a business but is really about party politics, pure and simple.
      Actions speak louder than words and the Council’s actions — and inactions– are crystal clear.

      • diane says:

        From a financial standpoint we do not know what our balances are. We owe money……the 9 million in expenses is still unreconciled……until we have the last two AUDs filed and all the bonds are reconciled I am uncomfortable going forward. While we have another 20 million that can be bonded for, can we afford the additional payments ? Three years ago we were spending more than we were taking in. I need to know, along with most reasonable people do we have the current revenue to support additional bonding? If so how much debt do we take on to satiate the spending appetite of the administration ?
        I have said all along, once our books are balanced, not partially done, we could look at bonding for special projects. We are not there yet and to fail to recognize that is not something we should be compromising on.
        And a heads up, it was and is the city engineer, Rich Miller, that went out on his own and investigated the solar power initiative that will be saving the city a considerable sum of money down the road. GD has nothing to do with it, he recommended hiring an outside counsel, which we did to move the project forward…….FYI

        • flippinamsterdam says:

          Diane,
          I’m gobsmacked by your comments. Comptrolller Agresta is telling you that this can be done and the revenues from the project more than pay for any debt service while your Corp Counsel has discussed how to mitigate some of the risk. What you are citing instead is irrelevant to assessing the financials of this specific deal.
          The question is not whether you should incur our full $20 million in debt but whether the financial returns (cash flows) from this deal enable you to fund the bond with a managed set of risks. According to Mr. Agresta, the financials of the deal are sound and generate positive cash flow to the city. In short, the answer is YES. I encourage you to step back and look at the financials of this deal because it looks like a winning deal for the city.
          And why bring GD and the solar deal into this? It’s irrelevant to the discussion at hand unless we want to talk about another contract where the Council focused on sideshow issues versus performing financial due diligence on multimillion dollar deals such as this.

  2. Tim Becker says:

    For further context, here’s the questions Barone was asking before the mayor said “Do you want to squash the project”
    G.D. describes the project…no net impact on the city budget.
    R.B: How long will they have to pay us back 50 years, 60 years? Why are we putting their laterals in anyway?
    A.T. It’s common, this is common practice
    G.D. It’s not the laterals, it’s the mains
    R.B. Why are we putting in the mains?
    A.T. It’s a common practice in these big development projects to do this this way
    R.B. But they pay it, they pay it back
    A.T. That’s what’s happening, they’ll pay it back
    G.D. At whatever terms you want to set, that’s reasonable
    R.B. 2 years?
    G.D. I doubt it, I would think 10, 15 years
    R.B. Well they just got over 3, 4 million dollars for that property…put it in
    A.T. I don’t think they got 3 or 4 million dollars, they got 800K maybe?
    R.B. Didn’t we just…
    A.T. Do you want to squash this project?

  3. wildthane says:

    And for further, further context read Tim’s report and the controller’s comments at: http://mohawkvalleycompass.com/2015/01/council-weighs-risks-of-assisting-deer-run-project/
    In fact, he suggested that the council take action to bond for critically needed projects so that the city progresses.
    No action. No plan. No good.

  4. Bill says:

    This is really very simple…Diane wants to be Mayor. She has shown she couldn’t run a lemonade stand much less a city. Let’s hope common sense reigns in November.

  5. Mike says:

    Mind numbing … Deer run is going to invest a few million dollars and they want us to invest $500000 of which they will pay us back….did I miss something. I hope that every ward has a challenger for the aldermanic seat. Hope is fading fast!

    • Rob Millan says:

      I’m afraid you heard that right. The only ‘point’ the countercrowd, headed by the Illustrious Ron Barone, has is ‘OMG what if they go bankrupt!’ which is the risk with ANY corporation, however successful or not they are. The best thing the City can do is good due diligence into the company’s finances (which should be required to be turned over in exchange for that money) to make sure the liability is minimal before lending it out.
      Also, I’m almost certain some people don’t know the difference between a loan and a grant.

    • Luis says:

      Yes Mike, I think you missed, because no one told you the city is owed $13.39 million in back taxes, with a 2014/2015 fiscal budget somewhere around $27 million. I think for that reason that smart people and corporations too, would stop and think of how much money does the city really really have?!! Before agreeing to spending 1/2 a million dollars more, don’t you think?
      Not your fault Mike, the current administration has been withholding that information from the public and common council members apparently.

      • flippinamsterdam says:

        Luis,
        Please explain how the information is withheld. I’m curious because the Comptroller prepares and owns the distribution of financial information; after all, he attends the very public meetings with the Council and Mayor. From what I can tell, he prepared the list of foreclosures which no other Comptroller did for the past five years and sent them out. For your accusation to be true, you would be pointing to the Comptroller as part of the circle that withholds information. I find this accusation troubling as it lacks substance so if you want to keep posting and throw out claims, you’d better bring a substantive set of facts because your claim is a serious one against the Comptroller. It’s especially troublesome because the very thing you claim is withheld had its details published in the Recorder. Furthermore, I, a lowly blogger, has the entire list of foreclosures. Apparently the media and I can access things the Council cannot according to you.
        Please provide the facts for your claim.

  6. Luis says:

    Since when did it become the Controllers job to notify the council? I ask you?
    Please refer to the city charter as to how the flow of city financial information actually works.
    Article IV. The Mayor and Acting Mayor it reads:
    Charter: C-36. Powers and duties.
    [Amended 2-1-1994 by L.L. No. 1-1994; by L.L. No. 5-2004, ref. date 11-2-2004; 8-20-2013 by L.L. No. 3-2013]
    In addition to other powers, duties and responsibilities assigned to the Mayor by this Charter or by law, the Mayor shall have the following powers and duties:
    G.
    To keep the Council fully informed at all times of the financial condition and needs of the City and to recommend such measures as the Mayor deems necessary to assure and protect its fiscal integrity.
    The process is not as you put it controller to council. It’s always been controller to mayor to council.

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      Nice try Luis. It’s the COntroller’s job per the charter:
      [Amended by L.L. No. 5-2004, ref. date 11-2-2004; 8-20-2013 by L.L. No. 3-2013]
      On the Controller’s own initiative or on request of the Mayor or agency heads, conduct studies of the management and operation of the City departments and agencies and recommend action to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery.
      D.
      Advise and assist all officers, employees and departments of the City regarding proper fiscal management of their respective activities and, in conjunction with this function, to:
      (1)
      Maintain, examine and audit the books and accounts of such officers, employees and departments, including the Water Department, and prescribe the form of accounts and financial reports to be used by them, consistent with the uniform system of accounts prescribed by the State Department of Audit and Control.
      (2)
      Confirm the deposit of all City moneys into the City treasury by all officers and employees receiving the same and assure that all required financial reports are made by all officers and employees responsible for such reports.
      E.
      Affix a written certification to all contracts and agreements for the expenditure of public funds entered into by any official of the City government that an amount has been appropriated for the particular purpose and is available therefor or has been authorized to be borrowed pursuant to the Local Finance Law, and no such contract or agreement shall be valid until so certified by the Controller. This requirement, however, shall not prevent the making of a contract for a term exceeding one year, nor require the City to pay during a fiscal year any amount larger than is due during that year under the terms of the contract.
      F.
      Transmit to the Mayor and the Common Council monthly statements of cash on hand and of classified unencumbered appropriation balances for the City as a whole and such other financial statements as may from time to time be required. The Controller at all times shall keep all departments, boards, commissions or other agencies currently informed of their classified unencumbered appropriation balances.
      So I’ll ask again: where are the facts to your claim and how can your accusation not implicate the Comptroller?

      • Luis says:

        Why would you want to implicate the Controller we just read yesterday he provided his information to the council, in public as per the charter section you state?
        Where as, the Mayor as per the Charter has not provided anything. As someone who has been involved in inspecting these foreclosures properties the Mayor playing the part of back seat driver rather than her front seat position in the process will doom this next foreclosure.
        Then again lets remember events, it was Mayor Thane who pushed the sale in the last auction to the WHPO of 48 properties to one entity only to have them dumped back on the city.
        The Mayor is the CEO not the Controller.

        • flippinamsterdam says:

          Luis,
          You are the one pushing that “information was withheld”. You are the one making that accusation , not me. I merely followed the logical train of thought that arises from your claim of “withholding information”. You can’t have it both ways: accusing the mayor only without implicating others that would have to complicit if that were true. That is the fallacy of your claim which is now quite clear as you can’t even explain it. Of course, you also totally fail to acknowledge that your understanding of the charter is wrong per my description of the Comptroller’s duties and admit that indeed the COmptroller is providing information to the Council which previously you stated could not get the information as it was withheld by the mayor.
          As far as the WPHO, the bid process was public, are you now claiming that that process was also subverted? I’m closing comments as your strategy appears to be : let’s throw stuff around with no basis and once I get called on it, change the topic to another claim with no basis.
          Either put facts on the table to keep posting here or I’ll red card you from posting here.