FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | NOVEMBER 18, 2016
Transcript | Prepared Remarks from Mayor Patrick Madden regarding the City of Troy Proposed 2017 Budget
Transcript of prepared remarks delivered by Troy Mayor Patrick Madden addressing matters related to the City of Troy proposed 2017 budget during a press conference at Troy City Hall on Friday, November 18, 2016.
Today I have issued a message of necessity to the City Council to pass a local law authorizing the City of Troy to override the State’s tax cap. Yesterday the City Council and I received a memo from the City’s Corporation Counsel urging the City Council to take such action. It is clear from all recent public meetings and pronouncements that the 2017 budget for the City of Troy will exceed the State’s tax cap.
Such a local law has its own set of requirements and time constraints. We are running out of time. I strongly urge the Council to move forward with that legislation immediately.
My administration – myself, the Deputy Mayor, our Comptroller’s Office, and department heads – prepared a fact based spending plan that provides the funds required for the services that the residents of Troy expect from the City.
This spending plan, called the Mayor’s proposed budget, was submitted to the Council on October 7th.
I’d like to address a few incorrect notions about the administration’s proposed budget:
We did not, did not, arbitrarily chose a tax increase of 28.2% as a starting point for negotiation.
A tax increase of 28.2% was the true cost of providing City services on October 7th. It is based on supportable facts.
As could be expected, some things have changed since October 7th.
We’ve advised the Council, for their consideration in amending the budget, of adjustments that now bring the tax rate down to 25.3%.
Although it is the Council’s sole responsibility to enact the 2017 budget, I and my staff have continually made ourselves available to assist the Council in their efforts.
We’ve attended every Council Committee’s budget hearing.
I convened an unprecedented working meeting with the Council on November 12th.
My door has been open throughout the entire process.
Some Council members have met with me and City staff and have offered suggestions based on those discussions.
Regrettably, some members chose not to engage the professional expertise of our City’s staff.
The four members who self-identify as the Council Majority Steering Committee offered a series of suggestions earlier this week without the benefit of input from myself or City staff. Some of the suggestions are clear, some are not, and we do not know which are supported by the Council.
We are committed to making a detailed analysis of all of these suggestions. We are proceeding with that work now.
I am taking the extraordinary step of speaking publicly about these suggestions before all of them are fully vetted because even a cursory review reveals that most of them are not sound and we are running out of time.
The suggestions are being offered as a solution to a steep tax increase. They are not solutions. The public should not be misled into thinking that there are viable options on the table to bring the tax increase down to 9.5% absent deep cuts in services.
A preliminary review of the Steering Committee’s suggestions reveal some that:
• Violate the City Charter
• Violate Existing Grant agreements
• Contradict State Comptroller recommendations
• Violate City Council Res. 91 – “16 Point Plan”
• Includes $110,000 in duplicate savings
Too many of these suggestions embody the misguided practices that have been employed in previous years to avoid the hard realities of our finances.
Year after year the Office of State Comptroller has admonished the City for proposing unrealistic budgets that include, among other things, understated expenditures. Many of the suggestions offered by the Steering Committee continue that unfortunate practice. These suggestions exemplify the unrealistically wishful budgeting practices that have resulted in the near total depletion of our fund balance.
Once again this year’s reductions are proposed to achieve a predetermined tax rate as opposed to a consideration of the actual costs of delivering services.
Artificial budget cuts that falsely lower taxes are simply once again kicking that can down the road solely for short-term political gain.
I am adamant about avoiding the mistakes of the past wherein numbers were cut with no regard for whether they were achievable. As it turns out they never were and we spent down our fund balance. Precisely because we have virtually no fund balance remaining to fall back on, it becomes all the more imperative that we get it right this year.
These proposed cuts will result in a grossly underfunded budget and will leave us without the ability to provide services to the residents and businesses in 2017.
As the Council Majority Steering Committee has fixed a tax increase not to exceed 9.5% as a sharp line in the sand, and as time draws short, I urge them to please come to the table for real and substantive discussions. Please sit with myself and the City’s professional staff to assess the viability of options. To that end I will make myself and the City’s staff available at the Counsel’s convenience to review and evaluate all ideas and suggestions.
Under our Charter it is the Council’s responsibility to adopt, or amend and adopt, the Mayor’s proposed budget. The challenge of that task is monumental and it requires good information and dialogue. I remain committed to making that information available to assist the Council in its role.
We will work this weekend to complete the analysis of all Council recommendations. Our goal is to provide that detailed analysis to the Council on Monday.
The City of Troy is a great, vibrant, and passionate community. We are poised, however, on a financial precipice. It is time we break with the practices of the past and right our financial ship. Failure to do so will turn back time 24 years and derail so much of our recent progress.
We can do this but time is running short. I remain committed to providing my full support to the Council.
John Salka, Deputy Director of Public Information
[email protected] / (518) 279-7131