We'd like to use this post to elicit some constructive comments on Troy's fiscal problems.
As we all know by now, the budget contains a 1.49% tax increase. The largest part of the budget goes for employee salaries and benefits (74%). The Administration has called this a "bare-bones" budget.
Now may be a good time to discuss, in a non-partisan way, future budgets.
If this is truly a bare-bones budget, that means there is nothing more left to cut without diminshing, in some way, essential services and jobs.
The troubling part about all this is what lies in store for the future. On the average, cost of living goes up approximately 4% each year. Medical costs usually go up more than 4%.
What happens next year? The year after? Many people like to moan about public employees but they are hardly making a King's Ranson. Do we expect them to work, year after year without any increase? Would you? Would you be satisfied if your salary never increased while the cost of living went up year after year? Would you, in actual spending power, want to make less year after year?
So, we can't expect public employees to go without raises. The same goes for medical expenses. We have no control over the cost associated with medical benefits. So what to do?
Next, lets ask ourselves this: Under this administration and the previous, taxes have gone up more than 13% in the last three years. If you were paying $3,000 in taxes you are now paying $3,390 and in our experience, good, middle class homes in Troy are taxed at a higher rate.
For your $3,000 - $5,000 in tax dollars, what do you get? What does Troy (or Schenectady or any other similar Northeast city) have to offer. You receive basic government services. Water comes out of your faucet, the streets are plowed (sometime well sometimes not so well) and garbage is picked up. You have police and fire protection. The schools have a poor reputation. In short, you get no more than any other municipality but pay higher taxes than Brunswick or East Greenbush.
Finally, those big box stores, rich in commerical tax revenue, are not moving into cities. They are in East Greenbush, Brunswick and Latham. City people are spending their money in surrounding towns.
So, we guess the questions are:
Where do we go from here in terms of tax revenues?
How do we address growing salaries and benefits?
What long-term solutions are being floated?
Your thoughts and comments are welcome.