Moody's will hold the City of Troy's bond rating at A2. The rating effects the cost to governments of borrowing money. This might be a good thing as Troy shouldn't be borrowing money any time in the near future.
The rating outlook is negative because the last two mayors have almost depleted the reserve fund. Mayor Tutunjian used about $12,000,000 in reserve funds to offset needed tax hikes and Mayor Rosamilia dipped into the reserve fund for about $4,000,000.
The first thing the new majority on the City Council did was spend money on an independent audit. Well, the city already has an independent auditor and there is nothing terribly wrong with the city's books. True, you can always find a cut here or a cut there but it all ends up being nickels and dimes in the long run.
Mayor Tutunjian and Mayor Rosamilia often times announced "this budget is a bare bones budget." Even then, there were items here and there that could be cut but again, nickels and dimes, nickels and dimes.
Fiscally, the city is not a mess. East Greenbush is a mess with poor record keeping and people not knowing where money went or when it went. That is not Troy's problem. Troy's problem is the same as most old, industrial northeast cities: rising costs and falling or steady income; aging infrastructure and aging population. Then there is the public sector benefits issue. The fact that budgets have to be based on estimates instead of cash-in-hand only adds to the problem. When you want to minimize a tax hike, just make the estimates a bit more optimistic, right.
Budget cuts are not a permanent fix because ultimately they are one-shots. You can't cut what was already cut. This incoming council, like all the others, thinks they can cut their way to fiscal health. However, we would invite you to collect the Times Union and The Record articles on the budget for the past eight-ten years. What do you find? There are times when the mayor (Tutunjian or Rosamilia) offer a budget with a tax hike. The Council trims the tax hike with cuts. There are times when expenses have gone up and the mayor admits to using the reserve fund to cover that increase and not raise taxes. You see where this is going, right? Don't fill the auditors position, in the long run that savings is meaningless. We are using a spoon to bail out the boat.
Not helping this is perhaps a unique aspect of Troy's more vocal population: an odd mix of civic pride and utter provincialism. This vocal population love their city and see it as a special place. They end up making perfection the standard. Well, Troy is not a special place. It is just a place. Everybody thinks their town or city is special and therefore, no place is special.
If Troy could get a Target or a Walmart and increase the tax base, half the city would complain about traffic or 'box stores.' A not-for-profit wants to open up shop in Troy in an empty building - complaints. Empty buildings - complaints. Pot holes - complaints. Increase budget to fix pot holes - complaints.
So, if someone has an idea on how we can increase the tax base (not just maintain it), really increase it so cash flow is positive, let us know. Yes, corporate parks (ie. Corporate Woods) is an aesthetic abomination but don't we need something like Corporate Woods? A multi-building, modern, easily accessible home to solid, white-collar businesses? Until politicians start talking big and bold, we will fight these same battles year after year.
Or maybe another coffee shop or saloon would do it.