The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Monday, October 05, 2015

CANDIDATES REACT

We meant to post this yesterday but we kicked it down the road. Or, we punted. Any ubiquitous phrase will do.

The four mayoral candidates reacted to the proposed 9.3% tax hike unveiled by Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia. One even swooned. The reactions are a fascinating study.

First, however, it should be made clear that the tax hike was not a surprise to anyone on the City Council. The hike is being used to cover $1.9 million in pension fund costs owed to the State. The money was due last year and we deferred payment until this year under the Wimpy Doctrine of  "I'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today." Now, they'll break our legs if we don't pay.

Last year, the Council asked the Mayor to have department heads submit  department budgets with a 3% cut. This would have resulted in over twenty-five layoffs, including eight in the TPD and ten in the Fire Department. Obviously, these cuts were not adopted. All of this was in hopes of addressing what we face today. The Record covered the story back in November, 2014.

So, a significant hike was inevitable,  this year or last year. Everyone knew it. After the Tutunjian Administration ($12,000,000 over seven years) looted the reserve fund to avoid large tax increases, citizens are finally realizing that shit costs money and costs go up. Couple that with the fact that 86% of the budget is spent immediately for salaries, pensions, benefits and debt service, and you know taxes will almost always go up (unless you dip into the rainy day fund, now depleted to $600,000). So, Lou got caught holding the bag.


So, what do the candidates have to say:

Wiltshire:


Wiltshire, who is City Council president, said he did not see how the council could approve the increase. “[This tax increase] is terrible and it’s the result of kicking the can down the road and playing politics with Troy’s government,” said Wiltshire, a Democrat running on the Working Families Party line.

 Wiltshire criticized the Industrial Development Agency for “too many giveaways” and the current administration for not filling the position of city auditor.

“For me, we need to cut on our expenditures in areas we have control over,” said Wiltshire, identifying energy conservation as one area of possible improvement.

Well, either Wiltshire helped to kick the can down the road or he didn't know the can was being kicked down the road. Either way he's being disingenuous. As for not voting for it, Wiltshire may or may not know that the proposed budget will go into effect if the Council doesn't vote for it (or vote a revised budget). Not showing will not cut it this year.

Wiltshire offered no examples of how 'playing politics' or the IDA resulted in the proposed tax hike. We know, and so does Wiltshire, why the money is needed. Apparently, the reporter did not ask the follow up question. Wiltshire, in the past, has demonstrated an astounding ignorance of the IDA and PILOT programs. Although, he recently told the Reddit Community that he would work with the IDA to keep Troy's economic engine motoring.

The Tutunjian Administration understood the benefits of the IDA when it vigorously pushed tax breaks to bring Dinosaur-Bar-B-Que to Troy. The total package was over $600,000. This to a company whose majority owner is a hedge fund controlled by multi-zillionaire George Soros.

Now to Jim Gordon, the other candidate currently on the Council:


“This year, possible, the mayor presented a more realistic budget, unlike in past years when he presented a smoke-in-mirrors budget,” said Gordon. He said the tax hike, requiring council approval, punted the ball to the city council.

“Last year they kicked the can down the road and this year they punt the ball,” said Gordon.

Apparently, Gordon was not on the Council last year. And, the Charter actually punts the ball to the Council. That's the process. Gordon may not know that.

Under Section 70 of the Charter, the City Council has the authority to recommend changes to the proposed budget. Did either Gordon or Wiltshire make specific recommendations last year that might have lessened the looming tax hike? Gordon, like Wiltshire, buried his head in the sand for an entire year. Now, the have sandy heads. We don't have to tell you what that means.

The silver lining? We get to see two mayoral candidates in action as they roll up their sleeves and trudge through the budget quagmire. We can hear what they would do and what cuts they recommend. We get to see their leadership skills; Not just talk. Here, they can act. If they can provide Lou with enough cuts to lower the proposed tax increase 4-5% then they'll be heroes.

The candidates not currently in government get a free pass on this. They can say what they want, sound wise, self-righteous, conciliatory, etc. There is not anything they could have done in the past few years, or ever, to prevent the large tax increase.

Madden:

“Everybody had varying predictions of where the number would fall and I’m grateful it’s not double digits -- however it is very close to double digits and I think it’s a very difficult pill for people to swallow.”

Madden, the executive director of the Troy Rehabilitation and Improvement Program, said hopefully, the council will engage in the process this year and come up with some ideas. “But I also know if there were any easy fixes, the mayor wouldn’t have proposed a 9.3 percent increase,” he said.

Madden asked why the council had not addressed the anticipated hole in the 2016 budget from a deferred payment in 2015. “Where’s the council been on this question?”

He advocates for changes in the budgeting process, like forecasting beyond 12 months.

“We’re not doing the hard work that we need to be doing, we’re not acting strategically, we’re kicking the can down the road year after year,” he said.

Cox:

Jack Cox, Jr., who is running as an independent candidate on the Revolutionary Party line, said he was glad he was not on the City Council, like Gordon and Wiltshire, “because I don’t have to vote on this budget.”

With a 3.8 percent tax increase in 2015, the city taxes will increase about 13 percent in two years, said Cox.

The tax hike, he said, “clearly shows that the current administration, including Rodney and Jim Gordon, have a lack of understanding on how to manage money.

“At the end of the day, these people are making deals and doing things with the understanding that its others peoples money and there’s no end to the revenue stream and that’s public sector thinking,” said Cox. “We need private sector influence.”

With some deft maneuvering, the tax hike will be less. Perhaps 6%. Not great but better than what we face now. Lets watch and see what they do. If the men who would be mayor can't straighten this out, there's no choice but Madden.

Whether it's settling suits caused by the previous administration or making up for their raid on the reserve fund, we will be cleaning up Tutunjian's mess for years.



48 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is so great, whoever that "harry gone 4 years now" is brilliant. Your current political comrades are the most incompetent group of boobs ever assembled but it's Harry's fault? Well try to explain how the Times Union a left leaning, pro democratic paper has absolutely punished your boys in city haul? Did Harry take over the paper too?

Phana24JG said...

A bit off topic, but Pat stopped by the house yesterday. Aside from arriving right around the time the green flag dropped at Dover, I was surprised at how well he did. Answered questions without pandering, hyped is experience with a good practical example, used "I don't know," and "not sure," which I really like. It's my experience that(in general), intelligent and knowledgeable people are sufficiently secure in their abilities and do not mind using such phrases. I did not want to take up a lot of his time(read I wanted to see the start of the race), but again, a better campaigner than I had expected.

Anonymous said...

How's the books at Madden nonprofit? They must be very strong judging only by your enthusiasm. The release of the books from his company would be a huge feather in his cap. This man must have good numbers. Please show us this would be great and would certainly make for an easy choice. However the "rumor" on the streets is that he has a $1.7 million dollar deficit. Clear this up for us. HG4YN

Doh! said...

Rodney also blamed the administration for not appointing a City Auditor. The City Auditor is appointed by the City Council! It's Rodney's job to fill the auditor position. Ay Carumba.

Oh Say Can You See said...

Phana - It's outstanding that you greeted Patrick with an open mind and allowed yourself of be impressed. Spread the word. I know a bunch of Republicans who are giving Madden their vote. I wouldn't be surprised if someone started a Republicans for Madden for Mayor movement. Hope you caught the start of the race. Sam Harris rocked the National Anthem.

Anonymous said...

Doh! –
Rodney tried to hire an auditor. Votes against were Gordon, Kopka, Galuski, Sullivan-Teta, & Bodnar.

Pat Madden's Sister said...

Attention Voters! Free season tickets to the Joe for anyone shouting "Release the Tape" to Jim Gordon when he knocks on their door.

Anonymous said...

And the fact that he didn't have the leadership skills needed to get his initiatIves passed doesn't bode well for him. He's the council president. You get that, right? And how is it the administration's fault he couldn't get that passed?

These comments are perfect examples of how dim-witted and victim minded Rodney's people are. Let's get rid of them for good in November.

Anonymous said...

So the Council President's failed leadership to get the vote passed becomes the Mayor not doing the Council's job. Anybody else detect a pattern here?

Anonymous said...

Your a citizen. Ask to see the books. I want to hear the 911 tape. Do you? A deficit can be fixed. I just want people to feel safe in city hall.

Anonymous said...

Back to the budget, if I may...
Another can being silently kicked down the road is the fact that the unions have been working under expired contracts for a few years.
Come up with a salary increase you think is fair (or one that an arbitrator will award)then do the math.
We've got problems here in River City.

Anonymous said...

If you can't lead a council, you shouldn't lead a city. We need a bridge builder not a bridge burner!

Anonymous said...

FOIA the TRIP Code issues & police calls. Then get to the infestation problems up on 9th St, and the drug dealings.

Anonymous said...

You'd be surprised at how many of those old bs lawsuits would go away if the complaintents saw you would actually.take them to court. Might make them a bit wary of proceeding.

Anonymous said...

Best Gordon quote yet:
“I think it’s unacceptable given the fact that we knew 12 months ago what the potential was for a budget gap going into 2016 and I’ve got to question what we’ve been doing for the last 12 months...”

Uh, yeah. EXACTLY!!!

Anonymous said...

What do we think is going to happen to the budget when unions settle their contracts? The city offered the Public Safety unions a joke of a deal. They are going to a state arbitrator to decide the wages the union receive. Typically they are far more generous than what the city wants to give away. With the Pd's and Fd's salary low to the point where it's laughable and being without a raise for 4 years it is a safe bet an arbitrator will give out raises they city will be upset with.

Anonymous said...

What do we think is going to happen to the budget when unions settle their contracts? The city offered the Public Safety unions a joke of a deal. They are going to a state arbitrator to decide the wages the union receive. Typically they are far more generous than what the city wants to give away. With the Pd's and Fd's salary low to the point where it's laughable and being without a raise for 4 years it is a safe bet an arbitrator will give out raises they city will be upset with.

Anonymous said...

I know, right? Kinda scary he doesn't get it.

Anonymous said...

The answer to the budget crisis is the fire department. Get rid of the ambulance service and contract out like Albany and Schenectady. Give them an option, either the dead wood at the top retire or cut 1/4 of them. There it is in a nutshell.

Rob LaFlamm Esq. said...

Not sure if you can FOIA TRIP as it's not a gov't agency. There is probably a way to get the numbers through the gov't but not through TRIP. Not positive on that one.

Anonymous said...

Troy is the only municipality with the same number of cops as fireman. Albany has 340
Cops vs 235 fireman.

Hal Chase said...

So now we wait and see what our two council candidates can come up with. Not very encouraging.

Anonymous said...

The cops are going start leaving soon for better pay agencies that do less work and de with less BS.

Anonymous said...

Not to stick up for Rodney but, wasn't long time Wade political hack Mary Quinn the city auditor over the last (at least) four years? She didn't know there was a problem? Maybe that's why Lou put her into a city position on Wades say so? It's a dem stinkfest.

Anonymous said...

If you are curious about the "numbers" at TRIP, why don't you go to Meet The Candidates tomorrow night and ask Madden? My sense is, he would give you an honest answer.

Anonymous said...

Funny thing every cop and every firemen bitch and moan but they never leave. If it's that bad get out. They have no problem move out of the city but they never quit the force. Why? Because the pay is good that's why. Phones all of them. Time to cut the ambulance and the overtime

Anonymous said...

Cops are leaving, that's a fact. And the pay is horrendous.

He who smelt it..... said...

Everyone knew there was a problem. Harry raided the reserve fund in order to not raise taxes. Lou bit the bullet and did a reassessment, not popular but a long time coming. We also have huge debt from the 80's that is almost paid off. Once that debt is retired we have a chance to really move forward. If it is a dem stinkfest Rodney smelled it too and he was a Dem for the last four years. He touted himself on his FB page as "the only true Democrat"

Anonymous said...

The reassessment was started by John Brown while Harry was mayor. Try nasal spray. It was courageous and needed to be done. It also showed what a forward thinker John Brown was and the kind of mayor we could have had. But alas it was not to be. He hooked up with some bad people in your Democratic Party tried to steal votes and was ratted out by a three-time felon with a brother as a judge. John Brown took it like a man. Admitted his guilt and payed the price. Leaving all of us with this shitty group of people. Very interesting to think where we might have been with JB going into his second administration. HG4YN

Anonymous said...

@ 8:21 the city auditor is appointed by the city council NOT the mayor. Who was the council president again....?

Phana24JG said...

Rob is correct that TRIP is not covered by FOIL. While non-profits CAN be covered by FOIL, that only occurs when the NP is essentially governed by relevant agencies. However, there are a lot of reporting requirements for NPs. I would think the Dept of State would be the relevant NYS agency.

Bat Shea said...

Bring back Harry! He'll hire three Auditors and five Deputy Mayors to tackle the financial crisis!

Anonymous said...

Do me a favor: Post this:
@ 8:21 PM: Based on your ignorance of governmental functions, it's difficult to tell whether you're a Wiltshire supporter or a Republican. Gut tells me Republican. Smells like John Cubit.

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? Turned out to be just another scumbag, wannabe politician who committed a crime. Mayor material my ass

Anonymous said...

And then blame anybody but him

Civics lesson said...

Once again and hopefully for the last time.....The City Council appoints the auditor. Rodney and the council appointed her, Lou did not put her into the position on Wade's say so. The stinkfest here seems to the conspiracy theorists who don't know how our city government is run and think Wade is behind every thought and action that any democrat in the history of Troy has ever had.

Anonymous said...

@ civics lesson, Mary Quinn had been the council appointed auditor for at least the last 4 years. Failed miserably as evidenced by the disaster of a budget. Less than a year ago she was anointed to another job in city hall by Lou on the behest of Wade. Because of her incompetence as an auditor Rodney wanted her out and replaced with someone he could trust not to fudge the numbers. Now stick your head back up Wades ass.

Anonymous said...

1. The city auditor has nothing to do with the budget.
2. If she 'failed miserably' the council should be held accountable.
3. Rodney hasn't be able to fill the position of city auditor. Too busy planning his next vacation.

Anonymous said...

If Rodney wanted her replaced why didn't he replace her?

Jimmy Quinn said...

Civics Lesson:
Just pulled my head out of Wade's ass. Now pull your's out of Rodney's.
Here are the Auditor's official responsibilities as defined by the City Charter:
http://ecode360.com/11129328?highlight=auditor#11129328
Rodney never expressed any dissatisfaction with my mother while she was the Auditor.
He always went out of his way to tell me through his shit-eating insincere grin what a great job she was doing.
If my mother was incompetent it was Rodney's responsibility to replace her, and he didn't.
It was Rodney's responsibility as a Councilman to review the City Budget and he skipped out on the Budget vote two years in a row.
Rodney can pass the buck and attack my mother and Tom Wade all he wants.
They are not on the Ballot.
Maybe if Rodney actually did his job he would understand how the City Government works.
Rodney has done nothing positive for the City since taking office.
Troy deserves better.
JLQ

Anonymous said...

Blaming the auditor is a bullshit move. Way to punch down Wiltshire. What a leader.

Right On said...

Bravo Jimmy. Thank you for setting the record straight and for putting your name to your post. Rodney has never let the facts get in the way of his central narrative that it's always everyone else's fault. You're right we deserve better.

Anonymous said...

We appreciate how Jimmy defends his mom, its admirable. Mary has however been politically appointed and is beholden to Mr. Wade, Lou and down the road. Mary was about to be replaced because of her job performance and her poor attendance (with Lou's approval). She was Kopka's girl and Rodney wanted to remove her. Now Rodney's a bad guy for trying to make employees work for their wages? And Jimmy, Lou-Wade have now appointed mom to a city job and have eliminated your mom's essential auditor position from this years budget. I'm sure shes just trying to protect you.

Jimmy Quinn said...

Who's we?
Rodney is a liar.
One of several reasons why he's a bad guy.
Stop spreading his bullshit.

Anonymous said...

That position is so essential that Rodney never asked to have it funded, more strong leadership shown. Maybe he should spend less time campaigning and actually do his job. Remember he's "not a politician".

Anonymous said...

The engineer is trying to parlay his incumbency as a failed council president into the exucative spot as mayor. That is a complex POLITICAL problem Troy should not have to suffer through.
Voters of Troy: chose wisely!
Enough with the finger pointing....

Anonymous said...

Disgusting. And this from a council president who blew off two years of budget votes to preen on a beach with his shirt off. You're gone in November, Rodster. No more council, no mayor. Youll be nothing. Which is exactly what we all know you are.

Robert Cox said...

Not one person Penning his actual name to there posts this ECHOS of Jim Franko's Fake Page