Senator lashes out at administration for financial management.
Sen. Dean Skelos blasted the city administration on Wednesday for
requesting to borrow $15 million from the state in an effort to offset a
$10 million budget deficit.
a scathing letter sent to City Manager Jack Schnirman, Skelos
(R-Rockville Centre) said he continues to be “troubled” by Schnirman’s
“insistence on borrowing to address” the city’s financial woes rather
than looking for ways to reduce spending.
He said the city was seeking about $5 million more from the state than the projected deficit facing Long Beach.
not just kicking the can down the road, it’s borrowing money to buy
more empty cans,” wrote Skelos, the Senate Majority Leader.
wrote the letter in response to Schnirman’s request to borrow the $15
million in deficit financing from the state to be paid back over a
request would place the city’s current budget problems on the back of
Long Beach taxpayers for years to come,” Skelos wrote to Schnirman. “You
have yet to take adequate steps to responsibly address the current
fiscal dilemma, nor have you provided me with a legitimate plan to
reduce expenses and balance your budget.”Council Approves Deficit Reduction Surcharge
Wednesday night’s meeting, the City Council approved a 6.6 percent
deficit-reduction surcharge for three years, bringing this year’s tax
increase to 14.5 percent. The measure passed by a vote of 3-2, with Mike
Fagen and John McLaughlin voting against it.
a phone interview on Friday afternoon, Schnirman said he has asked
Skelos for the deficit financing measure to pay off the more than $10
million deficit he inherited from the previous administration in
January. He said he has cut into the deficit by shrinking the city
workforce to its lowest levels in history, and has recently made an
additional $1.2 million in cuts.
we can’t cut a dollar that was spent before we took office,” said
Schnirman, who insisted that he has balanced the budget even though the
deficit now stands at $4.8 million. “That bill has to be paid. It’s very
simple. If the city gets the approval for the deficit financing, we
will not have to institute the temporary surcharge. It’s a routine
approval that has been granted to 43 other municipalities, but we have
yet to be granted this authority.”
He said the 6.6 percent surcharge would cost the average homeowner $183 per year over three years.
Fagen said Schnirman has falsely touted a balanced budget and relied heavily on the state assistance before it was denied.
really an irresponsible thing for him to do,” Fagen said. “The city
should be cutting spending and saving money. But instead of doing that,
they’ve made minimal cuts, while still hiring people and giving out
unnecessary promotions and still giving people raises.
are in essence blaming Sen. Skelos for the tax increase,” Fagen added.
“They are trying to lay the blame for their own incompetence at the feet
of the state senate majority leader, which is the height of
irresponsible management.”Skelos Addresses Constituents
a letter to his constituents later in the week, Skelos said he wanted
to “correct some false and misleading information” about the city’s
financial troubles, while criticizing Schnirman and City Council
President Len Torres for the fiscal woes.
“Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman and Council President Len Torres have not been able to manage the city’s finances, and instead of taking responsibility, they are blaming me for mid-year tax hikes resulting from their own failure to act.
city leaders applied for a massive loan to pay for spending they can’t
afford, with no plan to pay it off other than to stick taxpayers and
their children with the bill. Now they are blaming someone else for the problem.”
could not be reached for comment, but Schnirman responded: “There has
been no misinformation. We look forward to working with the senator in
seeking ways to assist Long Beach taxpayers.”
said that if the state could provide help to 43 other municipalities
than “it has the power to ease the burden on our taxpayers.”
said he has provided the state with an 18-page document detailing the
city’s recent spending cuts, including layoffs and shrinking workforce,
and “how the City Council has stopped the bleeding and managed to
balance the budget.”
14.5 percent tax increase means that a homeowner currently paying
$10,000 in taxes annually will be hit with an additional $1,450, said
mid-year tax increase is unprecedented,” said Frank McQuade, chairman
of the Tea Party and a Republican Committeeman. “It’s never been done in
the history of Long Beach. “I would have been furious if Skelos had
approved the borrowing because it’s irresponsible. It’s a bailout that
has to stop.”
spokesman Tom Locascio strongly denied claims by the city
administration that the request to borrow money to pay off the deficit
“It’s anything but routine,” he said.
any substantial change in the way Long Beach does business, “what would
prevent the city from coming back in another two years and asking to
pay off the deficit with more borrowed money?” said Locascio.Where To From Here?
said he has helped Long Beach when the city proposed sound fiscal
measures. Under his leadership, the State Senate approved legislation
allowing Long Beach to amortize its early retirement costs, saving
taxpayers money. “We continue to believe that every level of government
should be balancing its budget by reducing spending, not by raising
taxes or taking on additional debt,” Skelos said.
said state lawmakers closed a $13 billion budget deficit without
raising taxes or borrowing money by streamlining government and reducing
hope the elected officials in Long Beach will start searching for
solutions instead of someone else to blame and begin to take seriously
the need to address their own budget shortfall with appropriate
actions,” the senator said.
Schnirman is still hopeful Skelos will change his mind before the surcharge is put into effect. “There’s always hope,” he said.