Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Opinion - Kingston's Budget Woes are VERY SERIOUS - 3 SOLUTIONS

The City of Kingston Budget problems are VERY SERIOUS, way beyond looking for savings in limiting garbage pick-up for non-for-profits.  Kingston is in a downward spiral of decreasing population, decreasing wealth, increasing taxes, and decreased services.  Where will this all end?  It sounds like it will end with the City of Kingston collecting exhorbitant taxes from a small population who will receive very few services.

I suggest the mayor and common council chose 1 of the 3 following solutions to help remedy this very serious problem to stop the bleeding of this glorious city located in a spectacular location.

1)  MUNICIPAL BANKRUPTCY - All contracts including union contracts are canceled.  The city would be able to start with a fresh, blank slate.  The city could start using ZERO-BASED BUDGETING, which allows the mayor and council telling department heads to start from ZERO each year, justifying the inclusion of every budget line item every year with no carry-over from year to year.

2)  CLOSE 1 or 2 of the 3 PAID FIRE STATIONS, coverting them to VOLUNTEER fire stations and begin a serious volunteer fireman recruiting campaign which includes financial rewards such as health benefits and includes a strong emphasis on building a cooperative volunteer spirit as is done in the Town of Ulster Fire Department.  This would allow the reduction of the paid fire department via attrition.

3)  OPEN THE 3 UNION CONTRACTS and Negotiate $1 Million budget reductions over the present 2009 budget for Police, Fire and DPW budgets, saving $3 Million, using the bargaining chips of  PRIVATIZATION and BANKRUPTCY as leverage.

I am looking for other suggestions which could help to repair Kingston's taxation problems for this year and setting the stage for future growth.  We need to STOP increasing taxes and SPEND CITY MONEY WISELY so we can attract the next generation to LIVE AND STAY HERE.

1 comment:

Mark Ingoglio said...

Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions, Ralph. I have belonged to the volunteer fire service for several years now, and we would all welcome the opportunity to better serve our communities.

I would add that Kingston, and all of Ulster County, needs to reconsider its attraction to public and private social service providers. The legislature just got our entire county classified as an economic recovery zone which, by definition, is a poverty-stricken region. It thereby got the right to float over $14 million in bonds to generate business. I do not know if it is possible to get this decision reversed, but I would say that people need to be vigilant with regard to how that money is spent. Just because we CAN issue the bonds to bond does not mean we HAVE TO.

What we need to do is capitalize on what we do have - 400 years of history and culture - rather than on what we do not have.

To my mind, basing our business profile (as a county or as a city) on the social service industry is a losing proposition. Let's leave charity toward one's neighbor to the discretion of the individual citizen and his house of worship, and amp up our for-profit tourism industry in stead.