Cuomo proposes plan to help distressed gov'ts

Posted at: 05/14/2013 5:19 PM
Updated at: 05/15/2013 10:38 AM
By: Beth Wurtmann

ALBANY - Governor Andrew Cuomo said he knows some local governments are struggling to stay solvent.

On Tuesday, he proposed a voluntary program to give distressed communities help, with an infusion of cash to reorganize under a management plan, tailored to each area.

"Albany is different than Syracuse is different from Buffalo is different than Jamestown. And you're not going to be able to say one size fits all," the Governor said.

Under the proposal, a new Financial Restructuring Board would be created, that includes the state Budget Director, Attorney General and state Comptroller.

They would make recommendations to a municipality, ranging from consolidation to shared services to cutting the number of elected officials.

But funding would only be doled out if the locality agreed to put the plan into action.

"If they are going to accept the money they better buy in, in the community, to implement what that funding is supporting," said Peter Baines, of the New York State Conference of Mayors.

"Tough medicine might be one way to look at it, but opportunity might be another way as well," said Steve Acquario, of the New York State Association of Counties.

80-million-dollars is budgeted for the legislative initiative, which the Governor is sending to lawmakers for consideration. If approved, he said it's free for any local government to apply.

"They're not being forced. This is not state government in the big arm or big brother. It's voluntary. However, if you want taxpayer money and resources you have to agree to the plan," added the Governor.

Under Cuomo's plan, union contracts would not be affected unless the union agreed to work with the board and local government to consider cost saving changes, as an alternative to binding arbitration.