Bouchon d'impôt remplacent échoue!
Last night the Troy City Council rejected legislation that would allow them to pay the City's bills. In order to pass a budget with a projected 8-9.3% tax increase the Council needed pass a local law allowing it to exceed the roughly 1.5% real property tax cap. The Council vote was 5-4 against.
Those voting for the override (who many have labeled "the adults") were Dean Bodnar (D-3), Bob Doherty (D-4), Gary Galuski (D-6), Erin Sullivan-Teta (At-Large) and Lynn Kopka (At-Large).
The nays (who many have labeled the adults) were Jim Gordon (D-1), Ken Zalewski (D-5), Rodney Wiltshire (At-Large) and Anastasia Robertson (D-2).
Councilman Zalewski had said for almost a week that he would be a 'No' vote. His vote was never in doubt. Councilman Wiltshire said that a 5% increase was palatable but they extra 3% was not. Councilman Gordon pulled a Zalewski and stated that a babysitter might be a good thing.
Councilwoman Robertson said, "Not another dollar for Amerikkka!"*
We don't yet know all the consequences, intended or otherwise, from this vote. Some may say they nays exercised fiscal responsibility. Others may say it is not fiscally responsible for a municipality to be unable to pay its bills. This is especially true because we know the source of the problem. Troy was not spending like a drunken sailor in Shanghai on leave in for the first time in 6 months (which sounds more and more attractive). Rather, the bulk of the problem came from pension fund payments, a problem that will plague cities like Troy in the years to come.
We do not believe that the Council, as a whole, made a serious effort to find appropriate and real cuts. We do know that the entire Council never met to try and work this out. certain members, due to personality differences, acted more like petulant children than leaders. One actually threw a juice box against the wall when it was bedtime.** Cutting supplies is not a serious effort. That's a Band-Aid.
Another Councilman who shall remain nameless (Wiltshire) spent more time casting blame and playing victim (Wiltshire) than he spent working on a solution.
Is it telling or mere coincidence that every person voting 'no' will not be present to pick up the pieces? Two of the four have telegraphed a certain disdain for the Troy Police Department. After what happened this summer, do we want to cut into ERT funding? Do we want to close two firehouses? Will this be the typical situation where citizens do not want a tax increase but want services unaffected?
Getting and keeping the fiscal house in shape should be a priority. Falling back on the New York State Comptrollers Office for oversight still seems like passing the buck.
We guess the question for our multitudinous readership is: Is last night's vote a net positive or negative?
* To the best of our knowledge not actually said
** To the best of our knowledge not actually done