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Thread: Control board rejects Collins fiscal plan

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    Control board rejects Collins fiscal plan

    Control board rejects Collins fiscal plan

    County executive resists borrowing demand; budget director is resigning at end of month

    By Matthew Spina
    Updated: 05/16/08 6:38 AM


    Erie Countys state-appointed financial control board swiftly rejected County Executive Chris Collins fouryear financial plan Thursday and remained as a so-called hard control board, demanding that it borrow millions of dollars on the governments behalf.

    I would suggest this control board is trying to nitpick our county like no other county in the state, Collins responded later, insisting he will never let the control board borrow for Erie County.
    The word never can be used in capital letters, he said.
    The control board says it can save taxpayers money on repayment costs, but like other state authorities, it must exist as long as it has debt.
    Collins, the County Legislature and County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz want the panel dissolved long before the 30 years it would take to repay the next loan, or the year 2039, the longest the board can survive under the state law that created it. The elected leaders want to borrow money the old-fashioned way, through the comptroller.
    I dont see where they are bringing any value to the taxpayer, Collins said of the control board after its Finance Committee rejected his fouryear plan and the full board unanimously ratified the decision minutes later, 6-0.
    It was the days second blow to the Collins administration. Earlier, Budget Director Beth A. Kornbrekke told her staff she would resign at months end. Collins had selected Kornbrekke from one of his companies, where she served as controller. But she felt uncomfortable in one of county governments most demanding and high-profile jobs.
    She is comfortable being a numbers person, but not with being the public face of the department, said Grant Loomis, a spokesman for Collins.
    Collins, Kornbrekke and her staff had fashioned a financial plan that showed Erie County can balance its budgets through the year 2011. Collins figured that by satisfying the control board with a reasonable four-year plan something former County Executive Joel A. Giambra was never able to do the state overseers would relax into an advisory role.
    Then, as a panel of advisers, the control board could not block Poloncarz, Collins and the Legislature from borrowing the $86 million they need to rebuild crumbling roads such as Wehrle Drive, shore up rusting bridges, complete this years upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium and continue with the makeover of the Botanical Gardens and the Buffalo Zoo, among other things.
    The $86 million includes the money that should have been borrowed for 2007s summer construction season, too, because the same debate about who can borrow raged last year and no bonds were sold for capital projects.
    When the control boards Finance Committee first reviewed the four-year plan May 8, it pounded Kornbrekke with questions and asked her to provide written answers. She provided the responses in a pile of documents more than an inch thick. But within six minutes Thursday it became clear the Finance Committee would reject the four-year plan.
    It is the opinion of the staff and board members who have reviewed the submission that the substantiation isnt there, said Executive Director Kenneth J. Vetter. He suggested a more cautious sales tax forecast and found that the Collins team had overestimated the savings that will come from keeping jobs vacant and from a new round of union contracts, new technology and efficiency ideas.
    Vetter, in a report that laid the foundation for the full control boards vote, also said Collins should not count on revenues from the Seneca Nations new Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino since they were originally destined for City Hall, nor should he expect $21 million in efficiency grants from the control board when the panel has just $16 million left to dispense.
    The board members called it premature for Collins to present a four-year plan so early in his first year in office.
    It just is prudent as businessmen to take a wait-and-see attitude, said Vice Chairman Robert M. Glaser.
    Though state law implies the control board should now recommend its own four-year plan, the board has never done so and will not start now. The members said they do not expect that the countys elected officials would follow it.
    Control board Chairman Anthony J. Baynes said that if the panel did write a four-year plan, it would include the millions of dollars that could be saved by letting the board borrow on the governments behalf.
    With its far-better credit rating, the board can save on repayment costs, about $2 million in todays dollars over the 30- year life of the $86 million loan. Baynes said the savings could reach $6.5 million if the board arranges subsequent loans.
    Collins said the board has an agenda. This board wants to be a hard board, he said. They want to exist for 30 years.



    So what does everyone think about this?

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    Some old crap from appointed hacks.
    I can not blame Budget Director Beth A. Kornbrekke for resigning.
    She is an excellent business woman who gets things done.

    This is the reason NYS and EC will forever be a socialist mess and a nightmare for business. Government in NYS refuses to get out of the way.

    As long as the people like living in a stagnant to negative economy forever, this area will just go slowly down the drain of economic demise.

    With our ever growing senior population and fewer working families to foot the tax bill, NYS will do what it always does and raise taxes and fees on those that stay.

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    Member raoul duke's Avatar
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    Whats better than a bunch of half-assed elected officials? A bunch of half-assed unelected officials. I'm not Collins's biggest fan at all, but if he can get rid of the wholly undemocratic control board, I might vote for him next time.
    One beautiful thing about having a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations is that every disaster is measured in terms of economic loss. It's sort of like getting your arm sheared off in a car accident and thinking, "Damn, now it'll take longer to fold the laundry" as blood spurts from your arteries. - The Rude Pundit

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    Member raoul duke's Avatar
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    Oh and Hardy, for the love of Christ, please go look up the word "socialism" and try to retain the definition. In the words of the irrepressible Inigo Montoya: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
    One beautiful thing about having a government of the corporations, by the corporations, and for the corporations is that every disaster is measured in terms of economic loss. It's sort of like getting your arm sheared off in a car accident and thinking, "Damn, now it'll take longer to fold the laundry" as blood spurts from your arteries. - The Rude Pundit

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    Unconstitutional

    I believe Control Boards are unconstitutional. It is amazing the people of the county are ok with having appointed policy makers. Until the ACLU or some group with very deep pockets pays a firm out of DC to challenge them, they will remain. Being that they don't appear to be going away anytime soon, you have to govern within their parameters, and then some, in the Cities case. The City has met all the criteria for a "soft" board, yet they continue to operate as a hard board. The County Exec finds himself at odds with the Counties board because they are mimicking the City's Board , taking steps to ensure their existence. Collins has his work cut out for him, and is probably regretting making the campaign promise of working for 1.00 a yr until the Board is "soft". I do find it funny he would include casino money in the county budget. He must be planning on changing the agreement and screwing the City out of that money. I was leery of that happening during the election, and it seems to be coming true. He's still early in his term and has some time to work with the control board as he pledged, but it looks like an adversarial relationship.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deerhunter
    I believe Control Boards are unconstitutional. It is amazing the people of the county are ok with having appointed policy makers. Until the ACLU or some group with very deep pockets pays a firm out of DC to challenge them, they will remain. Being that they don't appear to be going away anytime soon, you have to govern within their parameters, and then some, in the Cities case. The City has met all the criteria for a "soft" board, yet they continue to operate as a hard board. "The County Exec finds himself at odds with the Counties board because they are mimicking the City's Board , taking steps to ensure their existence." Collins has his work cut out for him, and is probably regretting making the campaign promise of working for 1.00 a yr until the Board is "soft". I do find it funny he would include casino money in the county budget. He must be planning on changing the agreement and screwing the City out of that money. I was leery of that happening during the election, and it seems to be coming true. He's still early in his term and has some time to work with the control board as he pledged, but it looks like an adversarial relationship.

    I put that one remark in quotations because of the irony of Collins being at odds with one control board while sitting on the other.

    I also heard the Erie County Control Board president say that Collins has to realize that budgeting Government is not like budgeting in private industry.
    Say what?
    I didn't vote for Collins but isn't that exactly why the majority of Erie County Residents did? They want the county run like a business by a man who is a business man, not a career politician?
    It's like Bizzaro world.
    "If you want to know what God thinks of money just look at the people he gave it to."

    By the way, what happened to biker? I miss the old coot.

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    If you go back a few years and read my remarks when the Buffalo Control board was created I said it was just another form of patronage with it's high priced staff jobs and that borrowing through them would lock them in for thirty years.
    Now Collins is saying the same thing. All he had to do was ask me. I could have saved him the aggravation of finding out himself.
    He's getting a lesson in NYS government and patronage 101. Common sense and taxpayer interest is a distant 2nd to power, patronage, financial concerns and common sense.
    "If you want to know what God thinks of money just look at the people he gave it to."

    By the way, what happened to biker? I miss the old coot.

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    I think a "control board" can be a good thing. Just take a look at the COB.
    This borrowing thing is screwed up and leaves us with no good option. Make an exception whatever it takes. NYS is so stuck on playing by the existing rules and creating new ones. They fail to look at themselves and realize that some of the existing rules they created only hinder everyone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GG716
    I think a "control board" can be a good thing. Just take a look at the COB.
    I would ask you to clarify but I am sure I would get the standard stereotypical answer. The wage freeze, blah blah blah......
    The city of Buffalo control board is not a good thing. It's not even a matter of perception. This control board takes a lot of credit for very little accomplished.
    Look at the cost of the control board. Close to two million a year in operating costs. High paid staffers that are purely political appointments locked in for thirty years because they forced the city to borrow money through them even though the city was never in the red.
    Three years of balanced budgets with the highest surpluses in the city's history. Do you think it's because of the control board? Hardly! It is because there has been an increase in state aid.
    Name one meaningful , permanent reform the control board has forced the city to implement. Just one.
    All it this control board is a long term two million dollar albatross around the neck of the tax payers of the City Of Buffalo.
    "If you want to know what God thinks of money just look at the people he gave it to."

    By the way, what happened to biker? I miss the old coot.

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    Cry me a friggin river.

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    Member citymouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cgoodsp466
    Cry me a friggin river.
    Hey, your paying for it.
    "If you want to know what God thinks of money just look at the people he gave it to."

    By the way, what happened to biker? I miss the old coot.

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