An informal committee of citizens that formed to look at the way the city spends its money came to a surprising conclusion.
“Everyone on the committee came to the same conclusion, that the city does a great job on taxes,” said Tim Farrell, who put the committee together with his wife, Jo.
The committee analyzed the city budget, looking for ways to lower taxes or spending.
“None of us could come up with a direction to go in,” Farrell told the Fulton Common Council recently.Â “It seems that all of our problems can trace to being forced on us by the state.”
The city spends more than $700,000 a year on overtime for its police and fire departments, but state and federal labor laws make it difficult for the city to negotiate changes to its contracts with the police and fire unions that would reduce overtime, Mayor Ron Woodward has said.
The state is imposing very high increases on local governments and schools for the local share of the state worker retirement system.
Because there’s no state budget and the state is running low on cash to pay its bills, Gov. David Paterson has delayed paying its bills to local governments and schools, forcing some of them to borrow money at taxpayer expense to pay their bills.
And rules on the removal of asbestos and other potentially hazardous materials from homes is imposing high costs on the city’s innovative program to rehabilitate homes and sell them at a profit to first-time homebuyers.Â A brand new federal rule on lead removal will add costs to these home projects.
Woodward noted that all of the city’s union contracts are up for negotiation next year and that he’s “holding his breath” that state aid cuts won’t be any more severe than they have been so far.