The mayors of Rochester and Yonkers today said they appreciate the state’s attention to their fiscal woes, but do not see a statewide control board as the answer to their troubles.
The New York Post floated speculation on Monday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli are considering a statewide control board to help foundering cities and municipalities.
Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano said a control board—which the city was once under—isn’t the answer. They need mandate relief, particularly when it comes to higher pension and health-care costs. Yonkers faces a $400 million deficit over the next three years; it has a budget of about $923 million.
“I’m glad we’ve caught the attention of some of the leaders, but the bottom line is this: The cities don’t need control boards,” Spano said in a telephone interview with Gannett’s Albany Bureau. “Cities can ask for a control board. What the cities need are help. Take over the pension costs, they are mandated by the state.”
Rochester Mayor Thomas Richards said a statewide control board should be last thing to explore. He said state and local officials need to find ways to not end up with a control board, which is a state-appointed entity that would manage a municipality’s finances.
“Our concern is that we don’t start there. We work our way through this problem and see what can do to avoid that kind of thing rather than have it be the solution,” Richards said.
Cuomo’s office had no comment on the proposal.
Raising property taxes isn’t the answer, Richards said. The city would raise about $3.2 million in revenue if it increased taxes by 2 percent. At the same time, its pension bill went up $17 million this year, he said.
“I think Rochester in many respects is better off than some of our neighbors, but ultimately if we continue to have these expenses that exceed our capacity to raise revenue, we’re eventually going to become a cropper here,” Richards said in an interview with Gannett.