Updated 06/20/2012 04:48 PM
Cities in crisis
Local governments continue to grapple with budget challenges. Some say they are on the brink of bankruptcy. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is continuing meetings with local leaders to discuss those challenges. YNN's Bill Carey says some of those leaders say the state still isn't addressing the key problems.
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NEW YORK STATE -- The State Comptroller says he's here to help. Local governments are facing intense pressure and Thomas DiNapoli says they can benefit by studying what's working in local governments and comparing notes on problems.
“What are the pressure points? And what might be some of the ways that help can come in. Especially at a time when there's just not going to be as much money to slow, in terms of unrestricted aid, as some would like,” DiNapoli said.
The problem facing cities across New York State is simple. It all comes down to a question of money. Services that have to be provided. Services that cost more and more each year. And less and less money to cover those additional costs. And for many of the local leaders at the session, Albany isn't seen as the solution, as much as the cause of the problems.
“The policies that are driving us to the brink of bankruptcy are almost exclusively policies that the state has put into place. So they put those policies into place, they're going to have to help us get out from underneath them,” Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.
“Well, I think there are things that the state could do, but they've shown themselves unwilling to do or unable to do,” said Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick.
The leaders of small cities share the concerns of those from larger communities. Myrick took office in Ithaca in January. Working on that city's budget, he says they haven't reached the limit of cuts, but they're close.
“There is still room left to cut, but there's not much. And we're going to have to pivot towards growth if we're going to make it. We really have to see an expansion of our tax base,” Myrick said.
The Comptroller says small steps toward mandate relief and an improving economy should help produce an improving picture in the coming years. But local leaders are looking at projections that show continuing red ink.
Miner said, “These are real trends. They're not just the product of bad management decisions or one bad cycle or two bad cycles. That we've actually had about 10 years of bad news and we're going to need help to change that.”
Help the state still isn't yet ready to provide.