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The Saratogian Newsroom blog, complete with thoughts and commentary from our newsroom staff and regular posts on happenings around town.

Saturday, November 21


When the Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins Jr. first proposed his 2010 comprehensive budget, I thought the prospect of laying off nearly 30 city employees was a tactic designed to scare the departments into finding other savings, or to try and force the hands of the DPW, City Hall, and Police unions, each of which still has an outstanding contract.

While that may well have been the initial goal, it seems pretty clear at this point that none of the contracts will be settled by next Monday, when the council is required to adopt some kind of budget, or the original proposal becomes law.

Was this a misguided move? I don't know, but I certainly understand why the unions would want to establish a precedent of giving back every time the city was in crisis, lest they become the city's go-to source for more money every time there's a crisis. On the other hand, the unions do have awfully nice benefits.

So, if the city doesn't get what it initially wanted, and the unions see some members loose their jobs, and the tax payers see reduced services (and rising property taxes), what's the net effect? Everyone looses. In the words of Ivins, is this "sharing the pain?" I guess so. Seems like everyone really is going to loose on Monday, no mater how those votes go.

Or maybe someone will pull a rabbit out of a hat.


Anonymous The grinch said...

What Bernstein you think this is a joke? The city needs to cut positions permanently.That is the only way out of this mess.Not temporary cuts permanent. Then find commissioners who can do more with less.Police sergents need to get out from behind the desk and walk the streets.Look at the bright side a few less cops will cut down on the overcrowding in the police station.Remember the old adgage "be careful what you wish for." The cops want more space they got more space.

November 21, 2009 at 6:05 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Andrew J Bernstein:

Ivins is a dunce. Residents who voted for him will get exactly what you're predicting: a very "loose" budget indeed.

November 22, 2009 at 9:54 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the miscalculation is including ANY $ from paid parking.

That will be a mid-year fiasco.

We need bigger/deeper cuts from every department that has grown fat over the years of good financial times.

Also, how about an update on the contracts? A timeline for arbitration (or whatever it is called) and any other insight?

November 23, 2009 at 11:03 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm wondering why the council, who has had since the first budget was introduced in September to work together on this budget, is just now holding a public hearing one week before the "absolute" deadline? And then they all say, it's too late to come up with any other budget ideas. What have they been doing???

Isn't it their job, even in this commissioner form of government, to come up with a budget that works best for all departments? And isn't it their job as an elected official to work tirelessly and together to create a budget that they can atleast all want to vote on?

Even the state representatives in Albany manage to burn the midnight oil around budget time to work together and come to some conclusions.

If the first idea was a bad idea, and one they don't agree on, then why didn't they act then instead of waiting to point fingers and say "that's not a good idea" now?

It's not the form of government that's bad, it's the individual dictators that serve as commissioners that can't see past their egos to work together.

November 23, 2009 at 10:23 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe it is time for the NYS Comptroller's Office Division of Local Government & School Accountability to take another look at the cities finances... Their recommendation in 2006 was

"The Council should continue to rely on sources of recurring
revenues sufficient to finance basic operations in the general,
water and sewer funds."

November 24, 2009 at 4:10 PM 

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