The Common Council's Disastrous City Budget & Economic Thinking

Before you think my headline is hyperbolic, please consider the facts with the recent budget. I’ll refer you to the Recorder or Mohawk Valley COmpass for the basis of what I say:

1) The Council just appropriated hundreds of thousands in fund balance to create their budget. This is by the same Council that campaigned and demagogues on how the city has no fund balance, is ‘broke’ or some other such demagoguery on the city’s financials. Unless, of course, they can disregard sound fiscal policy so they can claim to ‘cut taxes’ even if that assures higher tax rates down the road by draining the very fund balance they claimed did not exist.

2) The Council disregards and dismisses any notion of ownership for city economic development. That is why they wanted to fire Rob vonHassln , director the CEDD. Part of that rationale was the Council’s claim that the County could do it– Ken Rose and Matt Ossenforth could and should lead the city’s economic development efforts. Yet, when Rose and Ossenforth bring a development proposal to the city for the Concordia project, the Council basically says “we’re not going to do it, you need to do it.” and puts the entire deal at risk even after Rose and Ossenforth write a letter imploring the Council to not kill the deal and not make the city perceived as unfriendly to developers. The bottom line: the Council cares nothing for economic development regardless of who brings the deal. Playing politics with the CEDD position — which goes on year after year– trumps actual development.

3) The Council refuses to fund the art work for the bridge. This is hardly a surprise as they embody the self-loathing faction of the city which would rather see the bridge fail than succeed. For success would mean that a public project, championed by Satanic liberal** Paul Tonko, just might bring something desperately needed to the city — an attraction, development, a quality of life. Nope, it’s more important that this fails than this succeeds in the Council’s playbook. And a sizable bloc of the community is on the same page. How utterly sad and pathetic. But the community culture would rather tear someone down than build someone up– that’s the Amsterdam Way.

4) The Council made sure that the Golf Course gets what they need while all the while claiming that public taxpayers do not pay or finance the golf course. How they can continue to pull this ruse on taxpayers simply amazes me.

5) The Council funds $500 thousand for demolition, just like every previous Council, and allocates zero dollars for development , just like every previous COuncil. I harp on this all the time but you would think that after $6 million spent for demolition with no notable development thanks to underfunding growth-oriented development efforts that someone would say, “This is not working. This makes no sense.”

No, you just get more demolition with no strategy around building anything. And taxpayers pay for this year-after-year with bond payments — insane.

6) The Council proudly claim how this budget cuts taxes for taxpayers. THis claim is true– baed upon the estimates, the Council will cut annual taxes for a typical homeowner by $9 or so for a typical homeowner (based upon project tax drop of 14 cents per thousand). Now, $9 is impressive– that about covers popcorn at a movie for one person — so you can see how impressive this achievement really is in changing the underlying economic and fiscal landscape for city taxpayers. Never mind that this tax cut could only be accomplished by raiding the fund balance– against the recommendation of state auditors and any reasonable financial person– and never mind that this wholly unsustainable going forward.

7) The Council utterly shutdown any discussion on potential revenue from the ambulance service.  They claim we can’t afford $325K for artwork but we can afford to dismiss $600K in potential revenue. That’s f-ing brilliant.

8) The Council, unsurprisingly, once again goes after the Corp COunsel’s salary and assistant not in the spirit of governance but of spite and personal vendettas. It’s that simple.

**Editor’s note: ‘Satanic’ and ‘liberal’ are interchangeable so ‘Satanic liberal’ is just for extra emphasis to counter the conservative ideals of our Council and their supporters.

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