Thursday, April 05, 2012

Yonkers is nearly broke, and "one-shot budget gimmicks" like Ridge Hill payment are part of the problem

Remember the just-concluded Yonkers corruption trial, regarding, in part, ex-Council Member Sandy Annabi's 2006 vote in favor of Forest City Ratner's Ridge Hill retail/residential project?

The ostensible justification for the vote, argued vigorously by Annabi's lawyer, was the developer's willingness to pay $10.8 million more. Prosecutors said the money was "peanuts," in the words of one pro-project Council Member, and that Annabi flipped because of her relationship and reliance on funds from her political mentor, Zehy Jereis. Both were convicted.

Though Annabi's attorney argued that that was the best deal available, it had already been on the table.

Now, offering more backing for the prosecution's theory, a new report notes that the Ridge Hill payment was just one of several unwise "one-shot budget gimmicks" used by the city.

City in trouble

From today's New York Times, Yonkers Finances in Desperate Straits, Panel Warns:
Yonkers, the fourth-largest city in New York State, could be the next municipality headed for a control board.

A report issued on Thursday by the city government said Yonkers faced an $89 million shortfall for the next fiscal year, and $465 million over the following three years. The developments come as municipalities around the state and the nation face a growing fiscal crisis.

In an interview, one of the report’s authors, former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, said that the projected shortfalls would be too large for Yonkers to handle on its own and that other options would eventually have to be explored, including bankruptcy or a control board, unless the state bailed the city out.
Here's the press release, with a link to the report. And here's a relevant section from the report:


Presumably getting a larger recurring payment from Forest City, rather than a one-shot payment, would have done more for the city, though obviously it wouldn't have solved the city's problems.

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