November 26, 2008

ECFSA Proves Impotent

After Erie County's financial meltdown, the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority arrived with much fanfare at the end of the Giambra regime. Business experts from the private sector were on their way to save Erie County.

But now after several years of little action, the ECFSA has finally acknowledged that there is no solution available to local governments other than tax and fee increases. The ideas proposed by the control board include increasing fees taken in by the county clerk (which is a tax increase), a reduction in spending for parks and infrastructure (which is a short-term fix), cutting the risk retention fund (which is a risky short-term fix) and by BORROWING money. That is their advice? Borrow money?

And what was their advice on controlling labor costs, Erie County’s biggest expense? Nothing. The board acknowledges that “re-engineering employee wage and benefit scales” will be a challenge. Erie County has no power to re-engineer anything connected with public sector employee contracts. Impasse, fact finding, mediation and arbitration.

Governor Patterson can’t promise any relief whatsoever to the beleaguered property taxpayer without giving the local governments power at the bargaining table, something we'll never see given the new make up of state government.

Remember, the state needs to cut $15 billion in spending. God help all of us when Paterson's cuts to school districts start funneling their way to our tax bills.

1 comment:

KJOC said...

Wait 'til the cities get billed for pension shortfalls in the stock market. Nt was billed more than a million just a couple years ago, with a relatively measly drop in the market. This time we'll REALLY be taking a bath! Time to change that rule.