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

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

DRAFT AUDIT REPORT...

...bitch slaps Troy's financial practices.

A draft State Audit Report, to be released in final form on February 8, 2016, really bitch slaps the City's financial practices. According to the Times Union story:

The city drained its financial reserves to balance the budget, failed to monitor its finances and routinely used money from off-limit funds to pay the bills, according to a draft audit by the state comptroller's office that criticizes city fiscal operations.

"The council adopted budgets for the general fund that were not structurally balanced, but instead the council routinely relied on appropriating significant amounts of reserves to finance operations," the draft audit states.

 The city's general fund had operating deficits amounting to $8.6 million from 2012-2015 that it covered by draining $6.4 million from the water fund to close spending gaps, according to the financial study.
 
The story can be found on Times Union+. If you don't feel like paying, you can usually find the 'for pay' articles in the Times Union and The Record via a google search.
 
Anywho, the audit covers the last year of the Tutunjian administration and the last three years of the Rosamilia administration.
 
Mayor Madden, to his credit, appears not to be surprised by the findings. On the other hand, Council President Mantello and Councilman Mark McGrath (D-2) appeared to be alarmed.
 
We, here at the Troy Polloi, are unfazed by the report (but are putting the blog up for sale before blog values decline). The findings reflect what we, and others, have pointed out time and again. We invite you to collect (or if we have time we might) newspaper reports as well as the Mayor's message to the Council when presenting budgets. There, you will find many of the practices criticized, discussed. In fact, mayors have been more than open about using reserve funds and moving money around to minimize tax hikes and to avoid drastic cuts.
 
And before you bitch and moan, we are not blaming Harry. He shares the blames as well as past GOP-controlled and Democratic-controlled Councils and, frankly, the voters. While things, overall, are better than they were twenty years ago, its hard not to conclude that we are still weighed down by what occurred before we returned to a mayoral form of government.
 
The downside to knowing what is wrong is choosing the correct antidote(s). We know why administrations and councils juggle the numbers: they want to avoid tax hikes. They want to avoid tax hikes for political reasons and humanitarian reasons. No one wants people to have to pay more. Ultimately, a combination of tax hikes and cuts are necessary to balance to books and avoid the perennial shell game. How many more tax hikes can the average Troy citizen endure? Not many.
 
In the long run, the only thing that will restore fiscal health is a Marshall Plan like push for large scale commercial and industrial development to increase the tax base. Success is not guaranteed but it is really the only long-term solution.
 
There is one other option: flight to the outlying towns. If that begins to occur in meaningful numbers, well...
 
Happy New Year.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bill for your solution "a Marshall Plan like push for large scale commercial and industrial development". As planning director how have you made out over the last four years?

Phana24JG said...

A very solid post, although the gratuitous shot at Carm and Mark was unnecessary. Anyone with knowledge of municipal financing knew this was coming. Demo properly identifies the problem of resolving the issue. Surprisingly, Demo forgot that we do catch a break after 2021 when the MAC payments expire, so if we can stumble through the next few years, there is some good news.

It is easy to rail about corruption, waste, and govt spending, but while there are some legitimate cuts, we essentially have a serious structural deficit. The only "answer" is expanding the tax base, but that is a long-term fix. In the interim, every department needs to be cut, no exceptions save those that have immediate payback and yes, tax increases are coming again.

Anonymous said...

They deserve the shots they take because they're phonies. Faking surprise and outrage at what they knew all along about the city's financial condition. It's pure political posturing.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps your readership needs to be reminded that Mr. McGrath actually voted for the 2012 & 2013 budgets his last time as a council member.

Anonymous said...

Expanding the tax base is fine but did we not just do a revaluation and then see the council reduce the new assessments.The problem is the lack of SMART leadership.Hiring freeze...real bargaining with unions..Examining positions in the current administration would be a start. All this must today.

Anonymous said...

Excellent presentation of the facts Polloi. Take a bow.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should remind the readers that harry's 2012 budget had a 3.2 increase and the Dem majority council reduced it to 1. Good try though.

Robert Cox said...

Mark McGrath is The Cockroach of Cockroaches in Troy NY 12180-12182 Along With Vito and Company Rasputin's Curse on Troy

Anonymous said...

An old proverb is out there . . .
If you don't have it, don't spend it.
The "live within your means" philosophy is lost on government.
The lack of fiscal forecasting is synonymous with the Titanic running through the North Sea without looking out for the iceberg.
Standing up to the unions, living within your means, being aware of your cash flow or lack thereof . . . lessons that any administration needs to adopt. No more excuses and more accountability. This is not partisan directed, it is fiscally directed.

Anonymous said...

When I think back of all the money thrown out the window in the last 12 years or so, so many things come to mind... $250,000 for re-branding Troy, $55,000 for sprucing up the South Troy/Menands bridge entry to the city which is now all over grown, how many lawsuit settlements, ...the list is endless and embarrassing. We need a leader who can direct us to solid long term fiscal decisions and not the glitz & glam of the past. If Troy is so popular right now, lets have the developers pay US to be a part of the city instead of Troy giving away 20 years or more of tax breaks, while the developers get fat wallets. And lets start collecting all the back taxes & water bills owed to the city!!

Anonymous said...

Blame the voters. They continue to vote these idiots in

Anonymous said...

Fire department. Close 2 stations get ride of ambulances no new hires. Done

Anonymous said...

Indeed, great post

Anonymous said...

U we're kicked out if troy bob let it go and get over it. Everyone else won

Anonymous said...

Is this Cox the Robert Charles Cox that wrote the nasty things on facebook about Mr. Chamberlain after his death? If so Mark McGrath is my new hero.

Anonymous said...

The thing is no one would miss cox if the tables were turned

Anonymous said...

What did he cost you and your family (who want nothing to do with you) millions as well jusg like sheeran vito peterso. Crowly and mcgrath and dunne All these ppl trying to better the community Get over it.

Anonymous said...

Wilmington DE closed a firehouse and rescue company just two weeks ago to save money. Two days ago a toddler and baby were killed, a mother and child critically burned, and firefighters forced to bail out of windows.
You can mock it all you want, you can call it the "hero" card. That doesn't change the reality that closing firehouses saves taxpayer money at the expense of taxpayer lives.

Anonymous said...

It would be hard to make that argument by closing the one across from the Ale House with the Central station 6 blocks away.

Anonymous said...

It's not quite that simply, they are different firehouses, that house different types of apparatus, that serve different yet equally vital roles at a fire. To simplify it down as much as possible; between the River St firehouse and 6th Ave house, there are 3 staffed "fire trucks". One of them puts the fire out, one of them searches for victims trapped inside, one of them uses ladders to rescue people from upper floors and/or ventilated fatal heat and smoke out of the building. Which one of those tasks do you not want done anymore?

Anonymous said...

Clearly you never leave the house.

Phana24JG said...

Your point about closing stations is well taken, but at some point the line has to be drawn. Absent any meaningful new revenue streams, how often can you go to the existing taxpayers? If taxes go up much more, there will be no new investment in Troy in either the residential or commercial sector. That yields the further erosion of the tax base, resulting in the next round of budget shortfalls.

When public safety is over half of the budget, and growing at a much faster rate than the tax base, there are not a lot of options. This gets even more problematic if you look at the projected costs for the PFRS retirement system for the next several years. Add the possibility of even greater cost increases in the event of a bear market, and it really gets difficult.

Anonymous said...

Just looked at the Wilmington fire story no where did I see anything about a closed fire house infact the chief said they where there in 1 minute 7 seconds. They did however say that 9 people lived in this house with no working smoke detectors. Please point out the story about closed fire house.

Anonymous said...

When was the last time a fire fighter saved a life in Troy?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for explaining that, I didn't know. Could they somehow combine them at central station? I once read that was the plan many years ago to make central the hub station. As I stated though it's a tough argument geographically to keep the Ale House station open.

Anonymous said...

On EMS calls, about once a week or so. At a structure fire, about 1-2x per year. How many must they save to meet your quota? How much property damage must they prevent per year to meet your quota? How do you measure "lives saved" by stopping a fire from spreading down the block?

Anonymous said...

At one point the River St firehouse was "closed" for a number of years. However, there was a fire "engine" (the one that puts the fire out) at the 66th Ave station during that time. When the River St staion "re-opened", the engine from headquarters at 6th Ave was simply relocated there. You're probably right, having the engine located a short distance away at 6th Ave isn't the end of the world. But an engine company IS needed in the North Central-to-Downtown area. The engine would still need to exist, and firefighters would still need to start it, so the cost savings of physically moving the apparatus to 6th Ave are minimal at best.

Anonymous said...

http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/local/2015/12/30/wilmington-fire-department-cuts-special-rescue-unit/78083330/

Anonymous said...

You are quite right, the arrival time of the first company was quick. However, the arrival time is only HALF of the equation. Firefighters must arrive quickly with enough manpower to effectively perform all fire ground assignments. One engine company can't fight a fire AND search/rescue victims. They can only do one of those tasks at a time.

Anonymous said...

The dramatic movie rescues from fires and bringing someone back from cardiac arrest are few and far between (although do happen more than one might think). Lives are saved by firemen stopping fires from spreading to other buildings and endangering more people BEFORE a "hero" rescue has to be made. Lives are saved by fire-medics recognising and treating life threatening medical conditions BEFORE a patient requires CPR. I will admit that the fire service as a whole could do a better job at PR and education on those facts, but none-the-less, there they are.

Anonymous said...

I remember Rasputin voting no on his last Lou budget.Coxzilla needs help.

Anonymous said...

How many Troy firemen ever leave their job(s)? Over the last 20 years with the laws requiring smoke alarms, increased statewide code requirements and a lower population troy still has an overabundance of firefighters and a draconian contract that they cling to like they're entitled to it. To balance the budget that's the first place i'd look. Don't be afraid guys, Czarmella and Dworsky will never let that happen.

Anonymous said...

Clearly you've never turned on a scanner if you feel there is an "overabundance" of firefighters.

Anonymous said...

8:41. I just read more about Delaware fire department. I don't want to call you an evil person for trying to exploit the death of 2 children but you need to explain your post more. The city of Delaware closed no fire stations. They only close them on days when the firemen call in sick or take vacation. They moved 4 count them 4 firemen from a special unit into regulate firehouses. Your made a reference to children dying because of information I can't find. PLEASE Explain I'm finding your post to be disgusting please show me I'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

6:19, are you saying my union brothers are lying and exploiting children to make sure they get their taxpayer money that they're entitled to? If some of the heros don't post today they are busy with the second jobs.

Anonymous said...

I apologize if the information I posted came off as confusing, incomplete, or possibly misleading. Allow me to clarify some of the points. Yes, 4 firefighters were moved off of a Rescue Company and assigned to fill vacancies elsewhere in the department. The thing is, that firehouse only had a Rescue Company with 4 firefighters assigned to it. Therefore, ALL of the firefighters assigned to it were removed, it is out of service, and the house is closed.
I actually didn't mention the "brown outs" but you bring up a very good point. As I understand it (and as unfortunately is becoming common place in other financially distressed cities), Wilmington "browns out" a station/company (in addition to the closed rescue company) rather than backfill firefighters who are off that day. So essentially no single station (besides the closed rescue company) is closed every day, but rather each neighborhood gets to enjoy a rotation of having no fire coverage on a given day.
I assure you I am not trying to "exploit" anyone's death or tragedy, but instead prevent a similar tragedy in Troy. You see, this story hits a little close to home to me. Not only as a fireman, in a city where talk of closing stations is common, but because I have two little girls the same age. I choose to live within the city of Troy, because I want my family to be protected by a properly staffed, skilled, and experienced fire and EMS service. It terrifies me to think of those services being eliminated and putting my family at risk.
The truth is, if the ambulances were closed, I would still have a job. If a fire station was closed, I would likely still have a job. BUT the likelihood of me responding to a similar incident, in which we don't have enough manpower to effectively fight the fire and make rescues, is greatly increased. Along with the likelihood that a similar tragedy could befall my own family. I don't want to see that happen to anyone.

Anonymous said...

Enough with the splitting of the hairs. I have two kids and working smoke detectors and I'm happy to take my chances if it means my taxes don't keep spiraling up to a degree I can't even FEED my fucking kids. Go eat another donut and spare us the sob stories.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, at Dunkin Donuts

Anonymous said...

F*cking kids? I hope you don't really have any. Or an "old Lady" for that matter.

Anonymous said...

Amen 10:22. How many overpaid firefighters does it take to whine on a blog?

Anonymous said...

So 8:24 the bottom line is you lied and exploited the death of 2 children for your Union paycheck. That's disgusting. You no different than those dirty fucker that steal valor and imitate solders. You twisted a story. Scumbag.

Anonymous said...

You must have a problem with reading comprehension. There was no lying or twisting anywhere in there.

Anonymous said...

Yup. Pretty much.

Anonymous said...

12:24. I suggest you read his original post then read the story and then read his Maia Koba. Disgusting display.

Anonymous said...

Look, buddy, I don't expect and I'm not asking you to understand fire tactics or the responsibilities of a Rescue Company vs Engine Company. I understand that the intricacies of BLS-ALS or differences in fighting a single family home fire vs a high rise building are beyond what the general public is taught about the fire service.
However, we're discussing pretty simply concepts here. Removing all of the firemen assigned to a single company house means that house is now CLOSED. Not backfilling day to day vacancies, but rather "browning out" a company means an ADDITIONAL house is closed on a regular basis. Furthermore, less companies or understaffed companies available for a fire mean vital tasks are NOT going to get done; putting occupants at greater risk and increasing property damages. Its really not that complicated.
You can disagree with those facts if you choose. That is your right. You can fail to comprehend those statements, as is appears is the case. However, neither disagreeing with me or not grasping the information I place in front of you makes me a liar.
I've attempted to keep this debate civil, perhaps even providing some general education on public safety in the process. I realise that many not agree with me, and that is certainly their right and prerogative. Again, that does not make me a liar or some of the other accusations thrown out here. It has become painfully obvious that no cited examples or explanations from me will change your mind, but rather only serve to encourage personal attacks against my character, so I think its time I take my ball and go home Now.

Anonymous said...

Tl;dr: sob, whine, waaah waah, gimme a Boston creme and two glazed to go

Anonymous said...

3:28, the fact you stated or insinuated that children lost their lives in a fire due to a firehouse closing is undeniable. It is a union tactic that has been played successfully for years. The conversation here started with someone saying "close 2 firehouses and get rid of the ambulance". That would be unacceptable and dangerous. My opinion is when faced with defending the Ale house station you start to grasp for any and all excuses. It's too close to the central station and has been closed before without consequence. No story you twist will convince people otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Listen "Buddy" your first line "closed a firehouse" your next line was about the loss of children. You made the correlation in an attemp to link the 2 together. That's not the story. Your fear mongering in an attemp to link a tragedy with a city in Financial distress. That's fucking despicable. In a sad attemp to cover your ass you even brought your own children into your convoluted story. The one thing I can't figure out is how did you get this story? I hope you didn't do a google search looking for a sad story to use to bate fear. But I think you did. You lied and you where called out on it and you continue to justify it to yourself. I hope you find forgiveness somewhere for what you did.