Political Pressure Mounts for Financial Oversight

November 12, 2013 (Amsterdam, NY ) — Local Conservatives and Republicans rallied at a recent meeting to address their growing concerns and frustrations at the lack of financial accountability and transparency in the public’s right-to-know concerning public finances. With a number of Republican victories in the recent election, conservatives see an opportunity to drive local fiscal policy and financial management on a different course.
“We think it’s time for a more accountable and a more transparent government to the people. We can’t keep taxing people, especially our seniors, and giving handouts to those who frankly don’t deserve it. We have enough takers and if people can’t live within their means, we need to encourage them to cut spending on things they don’t need. Like families who need to live on a budget, so should our public agencies.” said Rick Tetley, leader of the local grassroots movement.
Mr. Tetley’s message seemed to resonate with the public in light of recent issues on the accuracy and availability of public financial statements. Local resident Onicamae Arrotpay concurred with Mr. Tetley, “Our taxes are much too high and it’s clear that homeowners, and especially our fixed income seniors, desperately need relief from high taxes. It’s time we stop coddling everyone who cries for help– we need to tighten our belts and run the city like a business. We have too much welfare and handouts. ┬áIt’s ridiculous that we don’t have any idea at the state of the financials or exactly where money comes in and comes out. The public deserves better from our elected officials– shame on them for not looking out for the interests of the people. No business is ever run this way so I hope our politicians start to get the message and start learning from the private sector. ”
Mr. Tetley outlined the action plan for the group, “We plan on bringing forth a petition to the next council meeting to address the ongoing operational and financial concerns cited by our group. It is our hope that the mayor and Council will adopt our recommendations especially when the Republican majority takes office. Like our Republican Facebook page motto says, ‘We can’t let up now. There’s too much at stake in 2013 to sit on the sidelines’. I am sure that the fiscal oversight and accountability so sorely lacking over the past years at the Amsterdam Municipal Golf Course will finally be addressed and no longer sidelined. Our seniors simply cannot afford it.”

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10 Responses

  1. ROGO says:

    You mention golf course again. The city will NEVER get a check from riverlink or mohawks because I guess our 3 alderpersons didn”t read contracts. They will receive CREDITS in lieu of payments of rent. As i stated before golfers paid over $1.5 MILLION dollars and received no credits

    • ROGO says:

      PS forgot to mention taxpayers will pay all bills

      • Rob Millan says:

        You also forgot to mention the part where the Muni enterprise is being unfairly treated as a scapegoat for all city vendor contracts.
        Nowhere does it say, nor should it be the practice, that all contracts be handled in the same manner or that one should set the standard for another. They should be treated on a case-by-case basis. Any other way would be unfair.
        Also absent is the part where business masters students presented a plan that went mostly (if not totally) ignored, as if to say they were kidding or as if it were a ham-fisted plan as a result of a half-baked study. This plan showed where the Muni was leaking and what areas could be addressed for improvements. Those graduate students must have felt treated as if their study was for some elementary school science fair; not some multi-million dollar business.
        A part of me thinks that many of the members of the Muni are a bit upset their fun time may be over. And for that, they’re raising hell with letters to the editor and calls to the radio station based on unfounded and biased assumptions among other things. And by fun time I mean treating the public course as their own private one whereby outsiders are made to feel unwanted and isolated, clogged tee times, you name it. If you want a similar scenario, you need only look at Little Falls’ public course- same childish behavior among its members a few years ago.
        Further embedded in my theory is the fact that there is almost no marketing of the Muni. Maybe none at all. While every golf course, public or private, realizes the investment in marketing the hell out of it to increase revenue, this seems to be a totally decried thing for Muni members. After all, marketing would potentially mean more people, potentially ‘outsiders’. And more people would mean less available times. Less available tee times means less bang for your buck, right?
        Lastly, I’m not exactly sure what good you were doing in presenting the city an ‘ultimatum’ with what you claimed was a list of 100 members ‘threatening’ to quit the course if they didn’t get their way. I’ll say it actually seemed (for lack of a better word) pretty childish. I’d actually like to see even three-quarters of those people fall through with their ‘threat’ once they quit to see elsewhere and how much pricier it is and at further distance.

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      I’m curious what you mean by your $1.5 million figure. Please explain.
      Also, it’s a nice talking point and misdirect to bring up the Mohawks and the Riverlink but the issue at-hand is governance of Muni.

      • flippinamsterdam says:

        Dear Readers,
        Please note that when you ask for numbers to backup some financial talking point, you get silence.

      • ROGO says:

        Go back and look at golf numbers. golfers paid for sprinkler system $500,000, clubhouse improvements $500,000, bridge repairs $100,000, roof $90,000, paving and drainage $400,000. Go look at bonding for golf course all this came out of golf budget. I would have posted earlier but can’t keep up with all blogs

        • flippinamsterdam says:

          Thanks for the link on the Golf numbers, it’s helpful. I think the balance sheets and income statements would be most helpful if they are available. I plan on a separate post on the financials but I want to clarify two of your points in the meanwhile.
          1) city taxpayers did not receive $1.5 million from golfers; instead, golfers put $1.5 million of debt via bonds on the city’s books to finance the improvements you cited. Admittedly, the golf commission is paying via BAN/Bonds but golfers did not contribute $1.5 million to the city coffers as revenue.
          2) The Golf Commission , via its bonding, impacts the overall financial health of every taxpayer in the city given that the bonding appears on the city’s books along with its bond payments. So when folks decry the city’s debt , it’s important to note that the golf course is responsible for a portion of that , which differs from the talking point that “the golf course costs the city nothing” or does not effect all city taxpayers. Clearly it does with its bonding.
          As a final point, I am not anti-golfer or anti-Muni. I’m anti lack of financial transparency and accountability to the broader city taxpayers interests in their public golf course, clearly one the largest assets in the city.

      • rogo says:

        any time you want to meet email me

  2. r says:

    My point is money is coming from golfers. If you look at charter (also other cities) golf is a enterprise fund in which it stayes in course. It is not a city revunue. Check utica and albany, but I think you are listening to what I
    ‘ m saying. As far as 1.5 million I agree it is not going to taxpayers, but likewise the golfers are paying it not city people, are they doing same at shuttewowth??? also did you check my last numbers on 1.5 million. any ??? email me.

    • flippinamsterdam says:

      I’ve not had a chance to write my post on Muni so a few thoughts in the meanwhile:
      1) The GOlf Commission uses city debt as a vehicle to finance capital projects. Yes, golfers pay the debt payments but city taxpayers incur the debt which as you know is rising. By adding debt to the city’s books for the GOlf Course, city taxpayers lose opportunities to use that debt for other purposes or not incur the debt at all. I’m not against financing improvements at the course but it is not accurate to say the GOlf Course does not effect city taxpayers.
      2) SHuttleworth and Riverlink have nothing to do with Muni. To the extent that they impact city taxpayers, they should also be subject to transparency and guidelines.
      3) As a public asset, Muni should be operated to preserve and enhance its asset value. As a city taxpayer, I do not want to see Muni stagnate or decline thereby lowering its asset value. As a result, city taxpayers have a vested interest in how the course is performing. In short, non-golfers are stakeholders as well in the operatons of the course and as the course is public, city taxpayers should exercise oversight and transparency into operations.
      4) I believe golfers should be treated fairly by taxpayers AND taxpayers should be treated fairly by golfers .
      5) I may take you up on your offer sometime

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