Updated 06/27/2012 06:06 PM
Tough financial times for Auburn
The tough budget times for Auburn may just be beginning, as the city implements a new budget containing deep cuts in spending. YNN's Bill Carey says this may be just the first round of cuts.
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AUBURN, N.Y. -- It was a long and emotional night. Speaker after speaker blasting members of Auburn's city council for deep cuts planned in the city budget. Workers arguing that their jobs made a difference. The city's police chief going so far as to tell lawmakers he's quitting because he doesn't think his department can handle the deep reductions.
The day after the ax fell, the man who runs Auburn city government began the job of putting the council decisions into effect.
“That is a definite challenge. The cuts are significant. The council's expectation, and I believe the citizens' expectation, is that they will not see an impact on services. My effort in working with department heads, now that we have the budget, will be to try to maintain services as best we can,” said Auburn City Manager Douglas Selby.
And Selby says the cutting isn't over. He foresees tough budget decisions over the next two to three years to finally bring the city books back into balance.
In many ways, the problems in the City of Auburn mirror those in other cities where politicians have attempted to hold down the tax rate, at the same time as expenses to run the city continue to climb.
Add in the economic decline of recent years and a drop in sales tax and the situation became critical.
A former mayor, Guy Cosentino, writing in the Auburn Citizen, says politics played a role.
"The zero percent increase in tax rates", he says, "was generally praised. It was also part of the problem...the desire for zeroes has brought the city to its current state."
Cosentino also complained that councilors had approved new city contracts without thinking through the impact on costs.
No one now doubts the impact on people as the city tries to grapple with red ink. But the city manager says at least the city has begun the hard work.
Selby said, “Clearly, we're not out of the woods. But this is a first step that's been taken to help us to get to that long term financial stable situation.”
More emotional nights, though, will likely lie ahead.