Sunday, November 2, 2014

Across the board public safety fee is an idea worth exploring


GORDON
For years, decades even, the City of Troy has tried to get Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to pay for city services and for years, decades even, the college has refused.
The easiest way to accomplish that would be to charge a nominal public safety fee, as it’s been called in the past, as part of the tuition and that money would pass through the college to the city. But, the city can’t just impose a fee on RPI or any other specific entity without imposing the same fee on all properties, like the recycling fee. And it can’t tax any of the non-profits.
As I mentioned, this has been going on for decades. Now, though, there is a sense of urgency because the city is in the worst financial shape in 20 years.
Councilman Jim Gordon, R-District 1, while appearing on Talk 1300, said he and his Republican colleague, Councilman Dean Bodnar, R-District 3, will propose a possible way to get some much needed cash from RPI and other non-profits.
It’s an out-of-the-box idea, and I have no idea if the city can find a way to implement it, but on the surface it is worth exploring.
BODNAR
According to Gordon, he wants to take all or part of the public safety budget – which equals about half of the city’s total spending per year – and rather than pay for it with taxes spread the bill out among all the properties in the city – including non-profits like RPI – and have them all pay a fee. By bringing such huge non-profits like Samaritan and St. Mary’s Hospital and RPI into the mix, the average homeowner will see an overall decrease in what he or she owes Uncle Sam per year while at the same time it represents a huge, untapped source of much needed revenue.
There are all sorts of road blocks in the way – including how much each property will pay, how to collect the fee, what happens if the fee isn’t paid, odds are the state Legislature will have to pass some sort of law and God knows they can complicate tying a shoe and that’s if the city can even come up with a rationale home rule request.
But, as reported in the Times Union, the city is facing an $800,000 deficit, which is more than 1 percent of the budget. If the city runs the deficit through the end of the year it risks again coming under the auspices of the state Comptroller’s Financial Control Board. That means the Comptroller will pretty much take away the city’s check book and every other aspect of the city’s finances.
Not surprisingly, police and fire overtime are over budget as is temporary help, which is surprising. At the same time some revenues aren’t coming in as predicted such as building permit fees – which I wrote about more than a year ago – and collection of vehicle and traffic fines.
My guess is if the administration of Mayor Lou Rosamilia is saying there is an $800,000 deficit then it’s really $1 million-plus, which will be even harder to make up before the books are closed at year’s end. Or maybe all the mayor, a former accounting professor at Hudson Valley Community College, is worried about is getting the deficit below the 1 percent threshold, or about $750,000.  
ROSAMILIA
And that’s not going to help out next year or the year after that at all. If anything it will just make it harder to get a balanced budget. All of the unions are without a contract, reserves have been spent down in recent years and the city already deferred $1.6 million in pension costs from next year to 2016.
Troy maybe in a little worse shape than other upstate, older industrial cities but it’s not alone in its financial woes. It’s also not alone in having a huge number of non-profits – close to 50 percent – that require a huge amount of city services they don’t pay for.
That’s why Gordon’s idea is at least worth exploring. Of course there will be naysayers and it certainly isn’t going to be an easy lift. But it’s better to get a little creative and explore new ideas rather than point fingers and unilaterally raise taxes on the average homeowner.

 

 

42 comments:

  1. Jim this is more work in 10 months than the previous councilman did in 4 years except for voter fraud.

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  2. Don't we already pay for public safety through our taxes?

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    1. That's what I thought. Now they want us to pay more because they can't do their jobs and manage the city correctly. Really! how far can the tax payer go. Enough is enough. Maybe the state should take over Troy finances. This is the worse administration Troy has ever had.

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  3. the City needs money. Have no problem with patrol cars at 3 and 4 way stop signs that so many idiots FLY THRU. esp in the Burgh

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  4. An $800,000 budget deficit is a lot of money to make up for. Didn't anyone in the administration see this one coming ?
    At least Gordon is thinking and attempting to find a way to resolve a problem rather than simply dump another burden on the homeowner tax payer.

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  5. Start taxing the renters directly. Everyone who gets a utility bill or a cable bill except the home owner gets an extra 10 bucks added on to each bill. Anyone who has a child in school pays 100.00 dollar tuition cost per year per child. Pay for 9 and the 10th one is free...

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    1. You're an idiot. This is absurdity and stupidity at its finest. Renter's pay taxes through the rent they pay, in hopes their landlord will pay the money out. Ignorant cheap shots.

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    2. I own a house and I have no tenants, every tax bill is simply taking food off of the table. An idiot would mindlessly just keep raising taxes and raising taxes. Try looking for a solution for a change. At some point we will get to the point where we cannot raise property taxes any higher. We either need to eliminate the need for a million dollars of police and fire department overtime or tap an alternate revenue stream. Hell we are already a million dollars in the hole this year and we have not even had to write the first check for snow removal that we cant somehow manage to do in house... Talk about ignorant...

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    3. A renter that pays about 700 balloons a month vs me, a homeowner that pays over a grand a month....Yea, Your the idiot. Go lay down.

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  6. Gordon is far from the sharpest tool in the shed. This has been discussed multiple times in the past, and at one point, RPI and others pooled dollars to pay for some fire equipment. Is he running for mayor?

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    1. RPI gave the city $5900 to the city for Medic 2 on 15th st.. Big help. SMH

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    2. I believe you are referring to the purchase of a ladder truck. RPI did not pay for that truck and certainly didn't come to the cities rescue. RPI, HVCC, St. Mary's, Samaritan, Emma Willard, and Russel Sage together give the city in the range of one million dollars a year for them to do what they need or want. At the time a ladder truck was desperately needed and was paid for with some of that money. RPI should buck up and purchase a new Ambulance for Medic 2 and New pumper as well as they are both aging.

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  7. Maybe tear down city hall and sell the property for a song to a former city employee? That should work.

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  8. The city of Troy needs revenue-so what do they do-close the revenue making GOLF COURSE this Wednesday, Decent weather is forecast. NO OTHER course in the area will close this early. O by the way suspended Rogers 1st day back on "job"

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  9. Why is the fire chief allowed to sleep over at the firehouse on Sunday nights and call it overtime?

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    1. someone needs to look at the FIRE CHIEFS OVERTIME ABUSE !!!!

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    2. You peeking in the windows of the firehouse?

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    3. Shut up fatty

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    4. Because the other battalion chiefs are off or on vacation. Covering the city when a chief officer is off, thats abuse? Next question.

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    5. Settle down folks -- this is not abuse at all. It is merely the well-earned reward for perjury during the council; hearings.

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    6. At least that chief spends time in Troy like he should unlike the other non resident chief and his mouthy side kick

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    7. All of the firemen that are ready for retirement are padding the payroll. He finish's up working all weekend selling liquor so he sleeps there increase his gross and his retirement! The Governor said he was going to stop this but that must have been just more political promises to the tax payers.

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    8. Lets do an audit of the last years of service for the last ten years of all the employees and see if there is a pattern of abuse, I dare you !

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    9. Next time you screwballs have a fire or medical emergency, deal with it your own damn selves. I dare you.
      Yea, didn't think so.

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  10. I believe a fee is not tax deductible so the residents of Troy would lose deductions on their personal tax returns. Not good Jim.

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    1. Safety and peace of mind or an extra hundred or so in your taxes.

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    2. We already pay out of our @$$

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  11. Rosamilia single handedly ruined Pattison's and Tut's progress Troy should declare bankruptcy and have the county take over the entire city yes entire city. Imagine if the City of Albany takes over Troy's 911 system...

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    1. A deficit is not bankruptcy. The city is nowhere close to bankrupt.

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    2. Thanks ace or should I say bill dunne

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  12. This ship has sunk.

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  13. $20 a semester on all student tuition per semester for the three Troy colleges would create over 1.5 million per SEMESTER just for the colleges use of public services that they could pay to the city.

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    1. Small caveat, they don't have to pay and according to State and Federal non profit guidelines you can't make them.

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    2. Right on 6:00 AM
      Problem solved.

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    3. You math comes out to 75,000 students. There are maybe 20,000.

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  14. Anyone else hear Rodney say he did not know what last nights meeting was for?

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    1. After Rodney demanded the grants writer position put back in the budget Lou asked him "where do we get the money to fill it?" Dead silence. Lou and Rodney deserve each other. Keep voting dem.

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    2. the grants writer donated $$ to Rodney's campaign. That explains it.

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  15. perhaps the city could look into charging schools and non profits every time a fire truck is sent for a false alarm? Public Safety is the most expensive for every city. The equipment alone is outrageously priced. 1/2 million for one fire truck. The city is also in need of some new fire apparatus. The ambulances have far out lived life expectancy at 13 years old.

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  16. Let's hope the city can cancel their bonding issues, because with a $800,000 deficit we cannot afford to take on any more debt. Who is responsible for the $800,000 debt ? Who should have been sounding the alarm earlier in the year ?

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    1. It should have been someone on the council. Look, anyone with a pulse knows this administration lies as easy as they breath (King Street)? Unfortunately the council who oversees the administration is too busy calling each other names and playing on facebook.

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  17. Here is a thought. The Mayor has experience in teaching accounting so he must know what accounts receivable is. The question is in two parts Mr. Mayor: (1) How much is out there in accounts receivable, money owed to Troy, but not yet collected by Troy ? (2) What efforts are being made to collect it and if it is not being actively pursued, why not ?

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