Sheppard Responds to Warren’s Budget: Let’s Not Play Politics with Our Future

Today City Council begins hearings of the proposed City of Rochester budget proposal from the Warren administration. The Democrat and Chronicle perfectly summed up what this proposal is – an election year budget. It’s a spending plan that takes from our future in order to make City Hall look better today. The proposed budget:

  • Defers needed neighborhood projects and infrastructure
  • Uses long term borrowing for short term needs
  • Demonstrates no improvement in police reorganization, poverty or job creation
  • Demonstrates City Hall’s lack of transparency or meaningful citizen input

City residents ultimately will lose out in this budget. Millions of dollars have been taken from planned street repairs such as curbs, sidewalks and utilities that are needed for our neighborhoods. Bridge projects, police reorganization and park projects will all be delayed to prop up this misleading budget.

Fittingly, the first part of the budget that is up for City Council review is the Mayor’s office – which has grown considerably in size and cost from that of her predecessors. The Mayor’s office budget includes the pay raise she supported and saw through just weeks before taking office – the highest paid mayor in Upstate New York.

The proposed budget will put a serious strain on future spending plans. If you worked in the building trades, would you take out a mortgage to purchase tools? Instead of doing what past mayors have done, this mayor is using the cash set aside for things like the purchase of fire equipment and apparatus, and is using it to fill a budget gap. This will delay acquiring needed equipment or force long term borrowing for short term needs. It pushes the budget crunch down the road for our children to pay.

Other questions include how the City is going to address:

  • The loss of the $4 million on recurring Red Light Camera revenue
  • Debt service on increased borrowing
  • The loss of $6 million NYS Aid to Municipalities linked to a lack of lobbying
  • Suspect revenue projections

A city budget is more than a yearly totaling of credits and expenses. It is meant to be a blueprint for the fiscal stability and growth of a city and should explain what the administration priorities are to achieve that. It is a document that is supposed to be transparent, collaborative and reflect the input of our citizens.

By this criteria, this year’s city budget proposal is short on vision, pushes budget crunches to the future and seems to have one goal – to make City Hall look good in the immediate short term. It is an election year budget that steals from the future while the City’s assessed value is eroding for the first time in a decade.

This is a smoke and mirrors proposal that is in complete keeping with how this administration operates: without citizen participation, without transparency, without long term planning, without integrity and without regard for the long term impact of their decisions on our taxpayers.