Thursday, February 14, 2008

With Friends Like These

It looks like the honeymoon is over for Dave Roefaro:

A political party leader who endorsed Mayor David Roefaro spoke out Thursday against a proposed 7.25 percent property-tax increase and called the budget irresponsible.

Utica resident Julie Miller, who is the chairwoman of the city and Oneida County Conservative parties, was one of four people who spoke at the Board of Estimate & Apportionment's public hearing Thursday for the proposed 2008-09 city budget.

Miller said residents are outraged with the proposed property-tax increase that the public cannot afford.
I was under the impression that Miller's endorsement of Roefaro was a matter of political expediency based on a mutual "Anyone but Julian" agreement, but I didn't expect it to fall apart quite this fast. The quick turnaround in Miller's opinions of the Mayor may have something to do with Roefaro's massive about-face on raising taxes. Today he's pushing for a 7.25% increase. Before the election, as this October 31st story in the OD points out, he was singing a different tune:

It’s very disappointing that the current administration has begun to operate as if it defines revenue and taxes in the same context. Taxes should not be any city’s most imperative revenue driver. The city taxpayer is burdened by the increase of over 30 percent the current administration has imposed upon them, an increase officials tiptoe around. The average homeowner can’t afford an increase.
Even more surprising is the fact that Roefaro is now relying on the same budgetary slight-of-hand involving funds from the sale of the water board that he excoriated Julian for:

Today, the Julian administration is balancing and paying our budget using large portions of revenue the city generated when the Hanna administration sold the water board.

When this money is gone, it’s gone and so is our ability to borrow. In this light, our future looks bleak at best. Creating and maintaining a prudent budget reserve and providing for budget corrections in an economic downturn, will save Utica millions over the life of a loan in borrowing costs.
That was back in October. Today Roefaro is raiding the exact same fund to prop up yet another good-time budget and doing his best to cement Utica's title as one of the most heavily taxed municipalities in the country. Worse, he's used those tax dollars to place a seemingly never ending stream of friends and family on the city payroll.

But I digress from tonight's meeting.

Here's another gem:

Roefaro told the audience that he's met with viable companies who want to bring jobs to Utica, companies that he said can't be named publicly yet, but “if we have a negative connotation no one will want to come here.”
Ah, the famous "companies that can't be named" so beloved by Oneida County politicians. Would those be the same companies beating down the door to build at the Marcy Super-Mega-Nano Center for the past decade? Or perhaps they're the "companies that can't be named" that were supposed to flock to the Griffis Institute? The Homeland Security Center? Or any one of the innumerable multi-million dollar boondoggles the area has been saddled with over the past twenty years?

And finally a chilling prediction, or perhaps a veiled threat, that perfectly encapsulates Roefaro's vision for the city:

"Things have to get worse before the city can improve."
Well, at least he's setting a goal for himself.