Thursday, November 12, 2009
If You Thought This Year Was Bad In NY - Wait for 2011.
The 2010 budgets aren't official yet in most counties across New York, but it is not too soon to talk about 2011. In fact, the county leaders I'm talking to say it's essential that we start talking about it now.
Counties in New York have mostly managed to avoid large tax increases by cutting staff, cutting corners where they can, raiding fund balances (those rainy day accounts they all try to maintain) and raising taxes as little as possible.
All the padding will be gone in 2011. The federal stimulus dollars will be gone. Fund balances will be smaller. Costs probably won't go down and revenues are unlikely to increase. In fact, people and businesses are leaving New York, not arriving. That means even if expenses stayed exactly the same, a smaller pool of taxpayers will be paying them.
Officials in several counties say Albany has to wake up and wake up now. 2011 will be, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group, "disastrous".
Despite lip service to cost cutting and consolidation, state government spending hasn't been really cut and has, in fact, increased. The state continues to pass on its costs to local and county governments - those are the same people who pay the state taxes, too...so any savings on the state level are just smoke and mirrors.
The heartening thing is that if taxpayers start talking now, they have the opportunity to make huge changes. Every state office is up for grabs in 2010. Remind your representatives of that fact and you're likely to get their attention; particularly if you organize a series of phone calls, emails or letters.
New York government has been a mess for years and New Yorkers put up with it. If New Yorkers are so spunky, so outspoken, why aren't they screaming yet? Better yet, why aren't they supporting viable alternatives to the 'business as usual' Democrats and Republicans?
Run for office and bring your pencil - there are a lot of budget items to be reconsidered.