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Today's Poll: Should the state increase financial aid to cities?

Mark Potwora
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I voted yes...New York state takes half of all sales taxes collected,They take all the surcharges from fines and tickets collected in the city and town courts,They take taxes out of my all my utilities bills,They take payroll taxes out of our paychecks They throw mandated expenses for welfare and food stamps that the cities and town and counties have to pay.....Property taxes are high for one reason ,because the state doesn't pay enough to the city...If the state does give you a grant ,you have to spend it on what they see fit....Not on your cities need....Just look at all revenue the state gets from Batavia Downs...All we get back is a small percentage of the profits....Yes the state should give back more to the cities..I would not call it financial aid since is was the people who live in the cities tax dollars to begin with..

Robert Brown
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Unfortunately Mark, asking for more from the state will only feed the beast...the state will take more in taxes, surcharges, and fees and the money flow will still not come back in equal volume to WNY.

I look at it differently: cut ALL state aid and at the same time cut ALL money flow to Albany. OK, I know there has to be a little, but let it be a trickle for state highways and ummm... I can't think of a single other thing we should be channeling cash to Albany to support (yes, I know there might be a thing or two)! Stop the Ponzi scheme already and keep everyone's money local. Get Albany out of our pockets and out of our way - they DO NOT HELP!!!

Lincoln DeCoursey
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All local governments receive some state aid, okay, but let people who live in big-government cities figure out how to fund their city governments. Diverting more state taxes to float marginal upstate cities strikes me as unfair to the rest of the state, including downstate and rural upstate.

Richards and other upstate mayors can argue that the "current model" for funding their cities is outdated and insufficient, but aren't they just referring to the concept of self-funding local government? They should be exempt? I like Rochester but in my opinion upstate cities should be mainly self-funded by those people who choose to keep homes and businesses there.

It's not the rural family's fault that Rochester for some reason requires 800 full time police officers. Rural folks manage to get along without all of these professional emergency services, without weekly music festivals, without libraries and rec centers and service centers in every neighborhood.

Daniel Jones
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The problem is not a lack of state aid, the problem is that there are too many layers of government on a local level, an antiquated system from when the tax base was much larger. Consolidation makes some people reel back, but its necessary, if you don't want your local taxes to go up then regionalism and merging entities is the way to go. There are also cities and towns upstate that are in good shape financially, the ones that aren't need to make hard calls, but more funding from NYS will not solve the entirety of their issues. Its an easy cop out, but its still a cop out.

Daniel Jones
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Lincoln - Buffalo is in excellent financial condition and the private sector economy there is growing exponentially. I don't mean this as a barb, but that's a mischaracterization of all 'upstate cities', Syracuse and Rochester didn't have a fiscal crisis in the early 2000s, but Buffalo did, and it came out a stronger, fiscally restructured city. Property taxes are down 15% and reserve funds are healthy.

Mark Brudz
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Lincoln,

You said "It's not the rural family's fault that Rochester for some reason requires 800 full time police officers. Rural folks manage to get along without all of these professional emergency services"

Not to condemning that statement but

When you combine the Sherriff's department and Batavia PD and adjust for county patrols the officer/resident ratio is Batavia is roughly the same.

486 residents per officer in Batavia
487 residents per officer in Rochester

The real issue isn't about emergency services at all except that under the current system that is pretty much all a local government can actually manage.

The real issue in my opinion is this;

Should we pay more in State Tax and have the state dole back the money as it sees appropriate or should we pay less in State taxes and tax locally according to actual local need? Sure we might pay more locally, But by paying less to the State we gain much more control and digression over what we actually need and how much we should pay.

To look at that overall cost as opposed to cost per resident is misleading. Further, cost per resident gives a better understanding of how money is actually spent.

Tim Miller
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I'd give you two thumbs up if allowed for the two parts in your comment - your research on the resident/officer ration, and the keep taxes local.

One minor add-on - the state should continue to collect something state-wide so that it can help localities that are in dire need. Day-to-day? Keep local.

Robert Brown
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But Mark, we have too much police coverage combined for Batavia and Genesee County and the cost structure for the same ratios of police officers is not necessarily the same between Batavia/Genesee and Rochester/Monroe. We are paying a guy to drive around in a car looking for stray dogs and writing the occasional parking ticket (and believe me, that's done selectively as there are daily violators who get zero ticketing).

Now the real issue may not be emergency services, but in fact police and fire are two of the biggest, if not the biggest, chunks of the City of Batavia budget. Is the city bankrupt? No, but citizen residents are being pushed to the brink with the multi-level taxation/fee schemes employed in the state and county.

I do agree with your trade-off analysis and as I stipulated, we should be looking for ways to pay less in state tax and ways to manage our issues locally (I think the county is a reasonable level of localness for the size of Genesee County (both in area and people)). In fact, we should be doing the same with our federal funding - shrink it and keep more funds local.

You have to look at cost per resident as well as quantity/quality of services provided for the cost. It's not that complex, but getting all the data to do the analysis is an exercise in onion peeling and is another sign of the overgrown bureaucracy that is crippling America.

Mark Brudz
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Robert, we are not as far apart as you believe, but your perception of what Law enforcement does is simply that, perception, I suggest that you listen to a scanner a week or two, you might be surprised. Howard doesn't report many of the domestic incidents (Rightfully so) unless they go bad, and Law Enforcements first job is to try to prevent things from going bad. Dog calls and parking complaints are a small pittance of what our local law enforcement does.

As far as Police and Fire being the two largest chunks of city cost, that is true IN EVERY CITY AND EVERY HEAVILY POPULATED TOWN.

"the overgrown bureaucracy" you speak of is largely the State and Federal Governments, Not so much Genesee County Much of the ,overgrown bureaucracy we face here is state mandated, with every penny the state sends to us, there is an additional tether attached.

Daniel cited Buffalo, Buffalo reduced taxes and reduced cost and bureaucracy, but guess what they increased the number of fireman and police officers, Go Figure.

Lincoln DeCoursey
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I agree with Mark that the main issue is how should we fund local government. The various news articles that I've seen lately are about these few regional city mayors who have begun in Albany this chorus about finding some new way to fund their cities because the current model, as they say, is outdated and broken. Their stance is that since their manufacturing tax bases have dried up, since they're saddled with pension obligations and struggling with a ballooning underclass, their cities should get increased state funding (collected from income taxpayers statewide) to perpetuate their city lifestyle.

My perspective is that if people who choose to live rurally with relatively limited government services manage to fund their town, village or small city governments mainly via their local property taxes, bigger cities should likewise be required to self-fund through their own property taxes to the same extent.

I get it about the importance of looking at cost per resident. I believe Rochester's police ratio is more like 270 residents per officer, so I think the comparison that I made in my initial comment does hold. Moreover, Batavia may not even provide the most striking contrast to these larger cities - after all Batavia is itself an (albeit smaller) upstate city.

Mark Brudz
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To clarify, the numbers were for PATROL OFFICERS, investigators and admin are a different issue. But it appears That you and I are very close in thought Lincoln

Frank Bartholomew
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I voted yes, we should take the money, it's our money, and we want it now,lol. If we don't take it, they will waste it elsewhere.
I kind of like the police presence as is. Gathering stats for pro/con data can lead to an arguement for either side of the issue.

Kyle Slocum
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Daniel,

If you ignore the threat to liberty of making government bigger and bigger (And more removed from the electorate and it's ability to choose its leaders and punish the politicians who betray them) you will end up a cow being milked by the political class for everything they can get out of you. That will be for their benefit, not your's or neighbor's.

The answer is not removing control and power from you and your neighbors, the answer is putting more power in the hands of you and your neighbors.

Daniel Jones
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Kyle - Regionalism strengthens local government, it doesn't do anyone well to pay 4 or more tax bills for the purpose of having more boards. School boards are a good example, why do we need them and a city or town council? Why do we need a separate government for a municipality and a school district? Merge the two, reduce overhead and have a stresmlined process. Make villages totally independent of towns so they can set their own policies in their areas without an overlapping tax burden. Change from a County Legislature to a board of supervisors with weighted voting in rural counties, and a downsized legislature in more urban ones. These policies make dealing with local government much less complicated, creates a more business friendly environment and allows for easier citizen input. Doing all of this would basically entail wiping out and replacing local government laws in New York State, or perhaps a constitutional convention, but I'm game.

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