Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A budget disaster nobody knew about


ROSAMILIA
I was going to stay up late last night and write something about the most inept, dysfunctional, indecisive Council in recent memory but I figured if they can just blow everything off so can I.
I’m not paid for this, however, and I don’t have nearly 50,000 people expecting me to write this column a few times a week. The nine members of the Council are paid to pass a responsible budget.
Hell, the Council president, Rodney Wiltshire, wasn’t even there to pass the budget – the single most important thing he is elected to do. And he was absent for the second year in a row.
I suppose I could have kicked off this column by saying “despite the administration’s best efforts” but that would just be laughable.
Of course, I’m referring to the Council’s decision to not vote on the mayor’s budget during a Finance Committee meeting. Actually, they didn’t vote on any budget and as such the mayor’s budget – which is $30,000 out of whack – goes into effect.
WIlTSHIRE
The Council also didn’t officially  
set a tax levy so if they don’t reconvene and do that, Trojans won’t have to pay any taxes in 2015. Maybe that’s why they did what they did. What politician would not get elected if he or she abolished taxes altogether.
It’s been a disaster right from the get-go. Let’s recap:
-The mayor’s budget, proposed in October, included deferring $1.9 million in pension costs from ’15 to ’16 and a $650,000 one-shot from the sale of the old city hall site on Monument Square. That means ’16 starts with a deficit of about $2.5 million.
-The ‘15 budget also includes $14,000 for a new dais to be permanently installed in the Council chambers in the building the city rents.  
-The state Comptroller came out with a report telling the city it could run a deficit as high as $800,000 in ’14 and if that projection comes true it could mean the city is back under the thumb of the Financial Control Board for the first time in nearly two decades.
-The state Comptroller, in his annual review of the budget, said the city spent $5.9 million more than it took in from 2011 through 2013. It made ends meet – and ignored the structural deficit – by syphoning off the water fund and spending money in the accounts reserved for capital projects, future contractual obligations and other unspecified but expected costs.
-The Council asks the mayor to see what it would look like if he cut 3 percent from each department.
-The mayor did and it included laying off 10 firefighters and five cops plus three civilians from the TPD.
-It took the Council all of seven minutes to say we aren’t cutting the Police of Fire departments and blamed the mayor for not coming up with another idea.
-The mayor – to his credit – didn’t blame the Council for not doing their job and making their own cuts or coming up with any ideas to raise revenues. Didn’t mean they did any of the things they are paid for, but at least the mayor took the high road and didn’t make the Council look any worse. Yes, it would have been possible.
-Some on the Council, though, did take their shots at the mayor but it rings hollow because nobody came up with any other ideas.
-Throughout it all, the mayor and the Council made a deer caught in the headlights look like a Rhodes Scholar and claim they had no idea the city’s financial picture was this bad. Yes, ignorance is bliss. Or maybe it is disguised by feral cats, shady demolition projects, cheap sidewalks, racial tension, solar energy, a tech committee and ribbon cuttings.
-Someone had to know and that someone is Acting Comptroller Joe Mazzariello. But, since he works for the mayor, the mayor had to know, and since the mayor is required by the Charter to give the Council quarterly financial updates the Council had to know.
-But nobody knows nothin’. Even the state Comptroller didn’t know. I looked at the budget reviews dating to ’09 and not one goes back three years like it did for ’15. Amazing, really, how things can fall through the cracks if you push it hard enough.
-And someone was pushing for four straight years – 2011-2014. But, sooner rather than later, the crack closes up and the all the stuff shoved in will explode like one of those spring loaded gag gifts. Except it’s not a joke. We are talking about the budget, here, and that impacts everyone living in the Collar City.  

 

 

65 comments:

  1. Remember Art Judge skipped out on a budget vote. He lost his seat in the next election. And Rodney wants to be Mayor?!

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  2. It's like kicking a dead horse. The council and administration have absolutely no clue. Zalewski ,Galuski and Bodnar have a combined 19 years on the council and still don't know the process? Too busy calling each other names. Rodney, Doherty and Robertson are delusional and thankfully will be gone. Gordon is too busy running from K. McGrath and Kopka and Teta are like two feral cats, one sneaky one stupid. Didn't Pete Ryan serve as a councilman before? Too many silver bullets turn the brain to mush. The good news is we don't have to pay taxes this year.

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  3. Jim how about the new Troy voters spokesperson Amy O'Connor out there on the news. Doesn't she live in Brunswick? Who the hell is she? What's her deal? Could someone look into there Red Rock crystal ball and figure this out?

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  4. You can't fix stupid. These council members are paid to do a job as is the mayor and they are not doing it. Let the State take over the finances since no elected member in this city knows what they are doing. Another stupid thing: that projected $14,000 dais project. That simply has to not happen.
    Every council member has their personal interests which is great until we discover they are not working for our interests - the people who voted for them. I am personally disgusted with the whole bunch!

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  5. College and Pro football keeps me busy but I still follow good old Troy. Here are the updated odds for next years mayors race after the latest disaster this week.Lou R 800-1 Rodney W 1000-1 Kenny Z 2000-1 Ed M 200-1 Cindy D 100-1 Jim G 50-1 Dean B 100-1 Mark Mc 25-1 Lynn K 50-1 Carmela M 75-1 The Field 10-1 Signed Vinny Vegas

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  6. And while Rome burns, Nero Wiltshire is in Florida for the second time in two years when it comes to such an important budget vote. I thought elected representatives were to lead by example, not lead in being absent. He is simply not being responsible and the $14,000 in the budget for the council table is his idea.

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  7. Why is the city still offering a pension plan when nearly every company on earth has done away with it.Go with a employer matching 401k plan like everyone in the private sector has.
    While were at it do away with the troy run ambulance service it is costing us about 1 million dollars a year,
    .

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    1. "Troy-run ambulance service"? What exactly are you talking about? The city fire department? You really wanna get rid of the fire department?? Yeah, that'll work. Next time you or someone you know gets t-boned at 40 mph, call Empire or Mohawk and get "rescued" by the wheezing 400 lb. slobs they employ.
      How about this - instead of getting rid of essential first responders, how about we get rid of the useless drains on society that suck up not only their resources, but all city resources, plus government benefits and tax money?
      We need to knock down every project building in the city. We need to clean house and make Troy a safe place to live in. You do that, you'll attract decent people. You attract decent people, taxes will be paid. Buildings won't be abandoned, businesses will boom.
      To simplify the city's financial issues as a problem caused by ambulances and police cars is absolutely asinine.

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    2. I agree,let a private company run the ambulance service seems to work fine in albany and you don't have to deal with the firefighters union.

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    3. Spoken like a true overweight,pension padding,Brunswick residing Troy Fireman

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  8. Can anyone name the one person who was is in the same position he was in then and now and the State has to come into the City because of a huge deficit????????? MAZZARIELLO!!!!!!

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  9. You are right about this dysfunctional inept and leaderless City Council. How can its President intentionally leave the state knowing Dec. 1 is the drop dead date for action on the budget ? And he has evaded this responsibility for the second year in a row of his council presidency ! What a joke---Wiltshire should be removed for negligence of duty.

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  10. Glad you described the Council's deception in calling for the Mayor to inquire about across the board budget reductions of 3%. The Mayor complied and when the Fire Chief and Police Chief responded with layoffs as the only option, Wiltshire promptly blames the administration for trying to lay off police and fire personnel.
    He is a liar who obviously will stoop to any tactic to advance himself.

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    1. Correction seven civilian employees and they just weren't going to fill three empty spots for officers. Seems the Fire department was the only one that put actual heroes jobs on the line

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  11. Troy will never get out from under zero respect for Lou and council what a mess. Imagine what Troy will look like in a couple years as hidden infrastructure ages, dpw-fire-police equipment fails, streets unpaved, housing stock devalues. Can we rename Lou... Dworsky and be done.

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    1. Isn't it funny how it's someone fault from 25 years ago and now the current Mayors fault but no one in between? People have been fudging figures from then until now when they can't fudge no more...but as the assistant controller says. That's the way it's always been done. I don't know why or how but that's how we roll.

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  12. WTF this is the second budget vote in a row that Rodney blown off to go on vacation. Can he be impeached ?

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  13. I hope that Galumpski and Lynne get along. He looks like he could swallow her whole.

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  14. It would be interesting to hear Mr. Mazzariello answer the following
    question(s) administered under oath:
    1) When did you first become aware that the City was running a cumulative deficit of somewhere between $5.5 million and $6 million ?
    2) To whom did you communicate these findings and when ?
    3) Did you discuss this with the Mayor and/or the President of the City Council ? If so, what did they say to you ?
    4) Why did you not make monthly reports to the City Council, especially illustrating the monthly deficits that were accruing ?
    5) Did someone advise or tell you not to do so ? If so, who was that person ?
    6) In your opinion, what can be done to resolve this financial mess ?

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    Replies
    1. Why doesn't the council request them all the time anyway??

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    2. They shouldn't have to ask.it the financial managers and associates that are responsible. Fire all three of them.

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    3. I wonder where CSEA dues go to. No real negotiations. A president that's gots no balls, a vice president that handles the CSEA finances also is Joe mazzieorello s assistant. Whole bunch of thugs!

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  15. Draft Mark McGrath is looking better every day

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    1. Don't count on it Mark

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    2. Ain't that the truth!!

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    3. He'd be in the same boat as Lou or worse.

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    4. Would rather have Mark steering the boat than sinking with Lou.

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  16. Look at Rodney's track record. He's skipped out on two budget votes. Wants 3% cuts across the board and then blames the mayor for the proposed layoffs. Rodney bashed our police dept when they were doing their job at kokopellis. You asked for him, you got him.

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  17. How about Russ Reeves and his Secretary/Girlfriend Bilking the City for 1,000,000 or so Does Mr. Mazzariello or Code/Bill Dunn have any Records of these Padded Paychecks ?
    Its all about how much you can take not what you can give back here in our fair City.
    It seems so I am waiting too see who gives any thing back I just set my Clock.

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    1. Where do you get your accusations from in regards to Russ? Why don't you look into businesses that also donate to political campaign funds and have neices and nephews on city payroll

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  18. Good exchange of thoughts Mr. Franco in this posting. Mazzariello needs to be held accountable. He is the guy who does the numbers and has been relied upon by this and prior administrations.

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    1. I appreciate your statement of the bitter facts. Without the newspaper it is difficult to get the true news.

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  19. If I had any faith whatsoever in the intelligence quotient of people in the Comptrollers Office it disintegrated during that meeting last night...... when it takes 3 representatives from City Hall, 2 of which are "acting" comptrollers and none of them could break down the fees and who gets what portion of a Street Cleaning tow violation............. Are you serious???? All 3 of them were clueless!!!!! "Well that's the way it's always been!" Is NOT an acceptable nor even remotely educated answer..........Yet people are expecting the same individuals to get us out of this mess????? WTH???

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    1. I feel your frustration but it wasn't "always" this way. Deb Witkowski was the city comptroller under Mayor Pattison and was asked to stay under Mayor Tutunjian. Her work was impeccable and she could explain in detail where all revenues were going. She now is the comptroller for THA which is flush and without deficits, scandal and is safer than it's ever been. In the meantime the Democrats in charge of Troy will give Jim (I didn't know I was stealing) Conroy a 20K gift on the backs of the taxpayers. Do any of you people out there see a pattern here?

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  20. Franco grew up on washington street

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    1. What was the over under?

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    2. Looks like the prominent city hall employee eats for free

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    3. Who's the prominent city hall employee. The last person who called himself prominent was Kevin Mcgrath. Turned out to be a disgrace.

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    4. Lous new hire in the engineering dept? The one who cried to his daddy who is Lous friend to get a raise ? Prominent?

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    5. Somebody's running scared in D1

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    6. Bring it on Freido

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  21. How do we eliminate the $14,000 dais from the budget? In light of magnitude of our debt the Council should be content to arrange their papers on card tables!

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  22. This is what happens in a city that has one party in control. Therr needs to be mix running things. A puppet mayor ( who ran because the originsl candidate wss under indictment). Voters should have realized whst was coming but they all drank the kool aid. Now the city is going the wrong direction again. And it looks like the same voters still don't care. You got what you are going to be paying for ....

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    1. Thanks Bill.you gotta go too.

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  23. Perhaps the most informative and best blog entry you've ever written. What's unfortunate to me is that many of these council members are more concerned with filming police, intervening in race relations and out to cut each others throat rather than take on the real issues facing the city. Why some only these people decided to run without a clue in the world as to what responsibility it entails is beyond me

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  24. Innocent people do not hire steve Coffey

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  25. Read Dec. 8, 2014 Times Union editorial devoted to "ineptitude" of current Troy City Council. It provides glaring examples of incompetence of Wiltshire and his gang of dysfunctionals ( Zalooski, Doherty, Robertson, Bodnar and gordon) on the Council that couldn't even pass a budget.
    This edotorial is worthy of a blog Mr. Franco.

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  26. It's clear that the State needs to take over. Period.

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  27. And someone is watching you too Robert. Walk softly pal.

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    Replies
    1. Probably men in white suits.

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  28. AnonymousDecember 11, 2014 at 7:50 AM

    Blah Blah Blah you got not balls

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    1. After watching you run from Crist and heard you pissed your pants from McGrath, who's got no balls?

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  29. That's why your Anonymous rite tough guy Ha !~~!

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  30. You can find him and his little toy plastic motorcycle at ryans wake. Or look for 1985 s10 with racing stripes. One with the most toys wins. Not when they are junk. Lol

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  31. you people are bustin chops on everything but the real problem the problem is this administrationwas never investigating anything ....does anybody remember this years moneymakers...the so called top ten list..we had a fireman make 55.000 dollars in overtime..we had a dpw supervisor make 33.000...we had a engineer assistant make 28.000 in overtime....does anybody get freaked out about this...i don't know all top ten money makers but geez...this is crazy....55k....33k...28k....i don't care what anyone says..there's no justification for these numbers...heck..this is just three out of the ten..how about the top thirty...bring out those numbers..does anybody really get it that this is disgusting abuse and went unnoticed...but hey...what does the mayor do...RAISE TAXES.....troy sux

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