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

Wednesday, February 2

A few more local officials react to Gov. Cuomo's Executive Budget presentation

From last night's City Council meeting, Saratoga Springs Supervisors Joanne Yepsen and Matthew Veitch shared their views on Governor Andrew Cuomo's Executive Budget presentation.

I spoke to Veitch briefly before the meeting began. He said that restoration of the VLT host community funding was one of the top agenda items being proposed as part of the county's 2011 legislative agenda. "It's the first thing on our list," he said, "We're going to make that push no matter what."

He added that he had been in conversations with city Accounts Commissioner John Franck on scheduling a VLT host community lobby day, which could coincide with the county's annual lobby day, scheduled for March.

In a note passed to me during the meeting, Yepsen said:
"The governor's budget proposed today will ultimately benefit students, taxpayers, and the businesses of New York, instead of legislators and special interests. There is just simply less to go around and with the AIM funds decreasing, municipalities, although an extremely difficult task, must collaborate, share services and delay projects; in short, cut spending. As an economic engine and a host racing city and county, Saratoga is positioned well to re-receive VLT revenues. I will continue to strongly advocate with the governor's office for our fair share. I appreciate the governor's leadership in fiscal budgeting and ethics reform and his charge to our state representatives to join him in transforming New York."

Finance Commissioner Ken Ivins Jr. also offered some analysis during his regular discussion of city finances. He mentioned the 2 percent property tax cap passed in the state Senate this week, and that the bill did not include mandate relief language desired by both Cuomo and municipalities.

He said that the governor's mandate relief task force, which includes two representatives from the New York State Conference of Mayors, will meet March 1.

He also described Cuomo's proposed decrease to AIM funding and the elimination of VLT host revenue to every city by Yonkers, to which DPW Commissioner Anthony "Skip" Scirocco replied, "That's fair."

"They protected it that way," said Mayor Scott Johnson during the ensuing explanation that Yonkers has tied their VLT host money into their education funding.

"this is only a third of the process," Ivins said, "We'll have to wait and see how the legislature deals with it."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thsormHow could anyone representing the City of Saratoga Springs state "That's Fair". As we were decomated by the loss of the VLT funds so will many other communities that do not have a strong financial position Look at the areas involved - Western NY, the Finger Lakes area, the Southern Tier and Monticello. All area with major financial problems. The governor is digging the hole and ready to place the coffin into the ground and we have an official who states "That's Fair" How did he feel when we lost our VLT funds. I'm sure he didn't think that was fair.No wonder there are groups who want a different type of representation!!!

February 3, 2011 at 5:41 AM 
Blogger Patrick H. Donges, City Desk said...

Anon, the commissioner was employing sarcasm and/or wit when he said that, which I thought would've been obvious. My mistake!

February 3, 2011 at 8:04 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It could have been my mistake as well but the people listening on TV only hear the commentary and it didn't come across that way.People need to remember there are hundreds listeing and only a few in the room.

February 3, 2011 at 1:22 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting, that our City and County tax bills for 2011 arrived on Tues. The same day that the City Council met.

Since 2008 when Ivins took office the City tax levy has increased 15.5%. An average of almost 5.2 % per year. Worse, over the last two years Ivins has prepared budgets that have increased the tax rate by 12.7%. An average of nearly 6.4% per year.

Many of the positions that were recently vacated through attrition have either been filled or replaced by part time or temporary appointments. These are added costs that did not have to be incurred. The mayor recently hired a planner at over $65,000 plus benefits. This is only one example of "do as I say not as I do" so well honed by mayor and company. And it is what keeps driving costs - and taxes - up.

There is a big difference in this day and age between what we would like and what we can afford.

February 3, 2011 at 4:27 PM 

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