Mayor Richards Responds to Rochester's Discouraging Fiscal Profile
The New York State Comptroller's office released a report highlighting the City of Rochester's serious fiscal issues. Most of the report released discouraging news.
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According to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Rochester is one of the poorest cities in the state.
"We've got an 18th century revenue system for a set of 21st century challenges," said Tom Richards, (D) Rochester Mayor.
Out of the big four cities outside New York City, Rochester ranks higher than its counterparts Buffalo, Syracuse, and Yonkers in terms of poverty and debt.
According to DiNapoli's report, the city's poverty rate is nearly 26 percent. The unemployment rate is 9.8 percent. The state average is 7.9.
"We no longer have this large industrial base that does two things, it provides employment and therefore stability to our community, but also provides quite frankly a lot of the revenue that funds the city itself," said Richards.
Richards says companies like Kodak represent the end of the city's industrial era. He says Rochester has been feeling the effects for years and the report is showing nothing new.
"I have been specifically talking about this issue, you know, ever since I've got elected mayor," he said.
Richards says these are issues the city has been working to tackle. The state predicts the city will suffer a $40 million shortfall for the 2012-13 fiscal year. He says already this year city officials have lowered the projected deficit by $10 million.
"In the long run, we are going to need some help here. There are going to have to be some fundamental changes if we're to continue to pursue our success," said Richards.
Richards wants the state to step in and increase its aid and relieve some of its mandates that create financial burdens.
"When you pay the two principal significant mandates that we have, the pension plan, which is $52 million, and the payment to the school district, which is $119 million, all of our real estate property tax and then some is gone," said Richards.
Richards says he's pleased the report recognized the city is well-managed. Still, when it comes to a quick solution, there isn't one.
"There's nothing like solving the problem from admitting you have it," said Richards.