$40 MILLION in One Shot Deals-Push Yonkers to the Brink
Letter delivered to all members of the Yonkers City Council this afternoon, June 13, 2011:
Dear City Council President:
In these tough economic times Yonkers residents, and in fact all New Yorkers, are suffering under one of the highest tax burdens in the nation. They are at the breaking point and simply can’t afford to pay any more.
That is why I am very concerned with the lack of transparency and forthrightness being exhibited by our City Council in a variety of areas related to the budget.
The City of Yonkers is no stranger to fiscal mismanagement. Twenty-three years ago this August theNew York State Emergency Financial Control Board declared Yonkers to be in a fiscal crisis and on the verge of bankruptcy. Today, we are headed down that path once again.
The municipal and school budget total slightly over $918,000,000; with a total annual debt service of nearly $67,000,000. This figure does not include the debt service on the $20,000,000 in new debt that would be created by the Transitional Finance Authority as proposed by Mayor Amicone.
When you look closely at the revenue side of the ledger and see that $40,000,000 of revenue is produced by “one shot deals” such as Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) and sale of city property, your jaw drops.
You don’t have to have an MBA to understand the level of our debt service is unsustainable and this city is perilously close to financial disaster. In future years, where will we find the $40,000,000 needed to bridge this gap?
In addition the Property Tax Rate is projected to jump by nearly 5%, the Sewer Tax Rate by 15%, and the Water Tax Rate by 20%. Increases which, the average taxpayer can ill afford and which many will simply be unable to pay.
It’s about time the Yonkers City Council came clean with the taxpayers and fully explains the tough financial future we face, including shortfalls in future years that are conservatively expected to reach over $90,000,000. This budget is a roadmap to disaster. Its one-shot deals, deficit financing and accounting chicanery would make Bernie Madoff blush!
Two members of the City Council plan to run for Mayor this year; Mr. Lesnick and Mr. Murtagh need to explain to the voters how than can seek that office when they are involved in the creation of a budget that will ultimately lead to the financial instability of our city and will break the back of its taxpayers.
Richard Martinelli is a candidate for Mayor of the City of Yonkers.