Tag Archives: control board

Deep Thoughts

16 Dec

What does the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority think of all this?

Halt the Collins / ECFSA Quid Pro Quo

25 Feb

The Erie County Control board – how can we miss you when you won’t go away?

County Executive Chris Collins has opted to let the control board do county borrowing because they’ll get an incrementally lower interest rate than the county – this despite the fact that the Comptroller’s office was well into the borrowing process, including competitive bidding, negotiation, paperwork, etc. – all on Collins’ assurance that he’d let the county do the borrowing.

But now, Collins has a different agenda.  You see, the Control Board was about to go back to a hard, control status – this would have been a colossal and embarrassing defeat for Six Sigma Collins. Despite their vehement denials to the contrary, I’m told that Collins flip-flopped on the issue of the ECFSA doing county long-term borrowing as part of a quid-pro-quo.  Collins gets a soft board, the board gets to do the borrowing – something it has been continually eager, if not downright underhanded, in its attempts to accomplish.

But it’s an usurpation of the duties of county elected officials.  People who are elected by, and accountable to, us.

Today, the County Legislature will meet at 2pm, and among the items on its agenda will be to pass Collins’ request to let the county control board issue long-term debt on behalf of the county.  While seemingly innocuous, this will have generational consequences.  If the control board issues long-term debt, it must exist for the life of that debt – another 20 years.

The county has ended the last four years with a surplus, and the same appears to be true for 2009. The control board had absolutely nothing to do with that – the hard choices that brought this about were made by elected officials long ago, during the budget crisis.
There is no need for the control board anymore.  It is unelected and accountable to no one – not you, not the legislature, not the County Executive.  It costs a million dollars in Erie County tax dollars per year to operate – the most fiscally prudent thing it could do would be to evaporate.

Call 858-7500 and ask your legislature to vote no on this legislation.  Do not let Chris Collins cut deals with this useless unelected board that permits it to exist for 20 more years.

The ECFSA Must Go

13 Feb
Image of Chris Collins from Facebook

Image of Chris Collins

The way you know a deal was cut between Chris Collins and the control board to avoid Collins the embarrassment of the ECFSA returning to control status?

Just how much both sides are denying that a deal was cut.

In essence, Collins just abdicated to an unelected state board made up of ex-county officials something that is within the province of currently elected county officials.

Why? No one can give a straight answer as to how much money this clownish, small-town decision will actually save, but at least Collins isn’t embarrassed.

Just like in business.

Erie County Control Board: The Empire Strikes Back

8 Feb

Isn’t it ironic that we’d save about a million bucks per year in county taxpayer dollars if we got rid of the ECFSA? How fiscally “adult”.

On Friday, the control board’s finance committee voted to recommend going back to a “hard” control period, because it says the administration’s four-year plan is defective and because it says it can do county short-term borrowing more cheaply than the county can. They gave the administration until tomorrow to fix it.

The latter claim is dubious, at best, and the former is nothing more than substituting one guess (the four-year plan) with another (the control board’s interpretation of it).

The full control board meets on Thursday in a an auditorium that can fit 300 people, but 3 will attend, and all of them will be county staffers and press.

I guess they have to justify their existence and expense every once in a while. Sort of like the patronage-laden, expensive board of the Erie County Water Authority.

The Erie County Legislature Finds Unanimity

30 Jan

Nothing unites the legislature like the control board’s malicious bumbling and stumbling, nor the hamhanded and arrogant incompetence of the Collins administration with respect to the tax bill fiasco.

Wasting money and making huge errors isn’t very Six Sigma-y, is it? Michele Iannello said:

“If we are going to talk about running county government like a business, then there have to be consequences for someone who made a $2 million mistake.”

(Now, if Gramigna will just explain who Legislator Robert Russell is)

(Photo credit: whitneyarlene via Flickr)

Heckuva Job, Control Board

26 Sep

After about 18 months of telling us over and over and over again that they can borrow more cheaply than the county, the control board found itself unable to do a thing.

The control board learned late Thursday that despite its assurances, it would be unable to secure the crucial $75 million loan that would keep county government operating beyond Tuesday.

Just before 5 p. m., control board Executive Director Kenneth J. Vetter turned to County Comptroller Mark C. Poloncarz and asked him to activate a backup deal he had in place.

Poloncarz believes he can borrow the $75 million in a private transaction with Bank of America. He says he can close it by Tuesday, in time to meet Friday’s $12 million payroll.

Erie County’s Fiscal Stability Authority — appointed by Albany’s powers — has a superior credit rating and controls many aspects of Erie County finances.

But Wall Street turmoil sent the board scrambling to borrow money the old-fashioned way, through the county comptroller.

The control board has been angling to borrow on the government’s behalf because it can save taxpayers money on repayment costs, given its top credit rating and the fact that it need not buy insurance against default.

Had the bridge loan – due to be repaid within the year – not gone through, the county would have been left temporarily broke, unable to make next week’s payroll, and there would have been a delay in the distribution of sales tax revenue to the municipalities and schools – $42 million worth.

Thank God my tax dollars go to funding this do-nothing, my-guess-is-better-than-yours control board.

Gov. Paterson: Let the County Borrow

27 Jun

A message from the County Comptroller:

As you may know, for some time now the Erie County Fiscal Stability Authority (“Authority”) has prevented my office from issuing bonds on behalf of Erie County so that we may complete important public safety and infrastructure projects for the County. When the Authority was created by the state it was never contemplated that the Authority would prevent the County from borrowing during good financial times, but it has done so and these actions have hurt this community.

As a result, earlier this week the New York State Senate and Assembly almost unanimously and with bipartisan support approved legislation to amend the Authority’s enabling act in order to close the loophole that prevented the County from completing its own borrowing even when the County is financially healthy.

While the legislation has passed the state legislature, before it can can take effect Governor David Paterson must sign this legislation into law. Today I wrote to the Governor asking him to sign the legislation into law, and now I ask that you do the same.

Notwithstanding the Authority’s claims to the contrary, the County is well on the road to fiscal stability, having achieved three consecutive years of balanced budgets with surpluses, even when the Authority consistently claimed the County was operating in a deficit. I am proud to say that at least two of those three years’ results happened on my watch, and this year is trending towards another positive year.

Since talking office I have never asked you to take any action but your help is needed now. If Governor Paterson hears from the taxpayers of our community I know he will sign this legislation into law and let our elected leaders, not appointed members of a state authority, borrow on your behalf to complete these very important but delayed projects

Therefore, I ask each of you to write to Governor David Paterson and ask him to sign into law the legislation, which will return representative democracy to Erie County and ensure that needed but delayed capital projects are completed this year.

To do so just click on this link, fill out the required information and cut and paste the below message (after the jump) to the Governor asking him to sign this important piece of legislation into law. If you do so you will have my sincere appreciation, but more importantly, you will help move our community forward.

Thank you and best wishes to one and all,

Mark Poloncarz
Erie County Comptroller Continue reading

The Problem with the County Control Board

21 May

The County Control Board set up by now-disgraced former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi was supposed to bring Erie County needed “adult supervision”.

The problem is that the state put a bunch of petulant kids in charge of it. As former county Comptroller James Hartman argues,

The ill-chosen members of the Erie County control board do not understand their purpose. Every action they have taken in the past two years was intended to expand and perpetuate their role. They have done nothing tangible to help the county. In fact, their actions hurt the county. Let me explain:

First, they have continuously rejected proposed four-year financial plans. The legislation says that plans should be approved on the basis of “reasonable and appropriate” assumptions. Instead, the board believes it can require guaranteed results. By their strange logic, every government should have a control board because the future is uncertain.

More disturbing, having rejected the county-proposed plans, the board has ignored its statutory responsibility to develop an alternate plan. Consequently, the county has operated for two years with no approved financial plan. This ambiguity makes it harder for the county to get its credit rating upgraded.

Second, these board members have used bully tactics in trying to take over the county’s borrowing. The only reason for the control board to borrow would be if Erie County could not borrow for itself. Saving a few million dollars over 30 years is no reason for the county to give up its credit market access.

It either needs to be dismantled, or else the people populating the control board need to be replaced by Governor Paterson. The Control Board has done nothing to help the county’s fiscal house, and instead costs us $1 million per year that could be used to either pay back the taxpayers or for something that’s actually, objectively useful.

Shorter Control Board Nonsense

16 May

1. Chris Collins submitted a wild-ass guess as to what the county’s revenues and expenditures will be over the next four years.

2. The appointed, unchecked county control board has its own wild-ass guesses as to the next four years’ county finances.

3. The control board rejected Collins’ four-year plan. No soup for you.

4. The law creating the control board suggests that the control board ought to now bring up a counterproposal representing its own wild-ass guess.

5. The control board will do no such thing, remaining perfectly happy to pick hypothetical nits and come up with unique ways to say “no”.

6. We need Governor David Paterson to grow a pair on this issue and reconstitute the board with people who are less political and more professional. Ever hear much controversy coming from the Buffalo control board? No, because the political agenda is not there.