• Ongoing coronavirus / COVID-19 discussion: how is the pandemic affecting your community, workplace, and wellness? 🦠

    Working from home? So are we. Come join us! Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, planning adjacent topics, and whatever else comes to mind. No ads, no spam, no social distancing.

Facing the crunch, cities with financial troubles

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
-Seeing how Buffalo got itself a control board and is in the process of cutting its budget and staff, I was wondering if your city, town, village, etc. was experiencing the crunch.

-I know a lot of municipalities are cutting services or raising taxes to support them, reducing # of employees, selling naming rights, etc.

-I also know that the feds are reducing the amount of money given out to cities and states, in light of rising medicade/medicare cost, increased police presence and security needed at international crossings/airports/major cities, etc.

-Biscuit, I hear that Pittsburgh is in some trouble as well, whats going on down there?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
A lot of Wisconsin cities are experiencing the financial hardship caused by our state. Our incompetent legisla-ssholes cut funds to cities for years, while spending beyond the state's means, and then when the problem became apparent, dumped it off on local government. We have lost five positions out of about eighty, and I expect to see a couple more cut next year.
 

boiker

Cyburbian
Messages
3,889
Points
26
beating a dead horse

Many Illinois communities felt the same brunt as Wisconsin.

Peoria laid off 10% of their workforce, Chicago laid off at least 650, and an incredible number of communities are on hiring freezes, wage freezes, and other anti-spend measures.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
It's hard to tell what is really going on around here because it changes everyday and those in the know at the top are still playing political games of oneupsmanship. What is known is that the city has been hurting financially for several years now due to a number of reasons.

- Antiquated and wasteful home rule structure that prohibits the city from expanding to capture the high growth suburban areas. (131 municipalities in one county, all delivering simular services is a bit to much don't you think).

-Really high debt ratio that has sent our municiple bonds down to junk status.

- Declining residential tax base, over 1/3 of property in the city has a tax-free use, and large corporate residents who pay no business tax.

- Democrates vs. Republican and Suburban and Rural vs. Urban political fighting that is occuring in most US states these days.

As for what's happening to remedy the problem... 550 or so of the 700+ employees who were laid last year will be rehired, the Council is about to pass a balanced budget with deep cuts into most non-essential services, and the Governor (ex-Mayor of Philly) is being supportive of more pro urban effots at the capital.

As an outsider I find it really unfortunate that these problems were allowed to fester and go unresolved for such a long time. This is a wonderful city experiencing a great rebirth following the industrial decline of the past 30 years, and I think would be a great place to set down roots, so it perplexes and saddens me that such problems were allowed to fester and go unresolved for such a long time.

In the end, however, I think this situation will be a good thing in that it will force reform and cooperation onto a political system that has resisted change at every turn in the past.
 
Last edited:

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
5,443
Points
34
Re: beating a dead horse

boiker said:
Many Illinois communities felt the same brunt as Wisconsin.

Ditto for Iowa
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
biscuit said:
- Antiquated and wasteful home rule structure that prohibits the city from expanding to capture the high growth suburban areas. (131 municipalities in one county, all delivering simular services is a bit to much don't you think).

-Really high debt ratio that has sent our municiple bonds down to junk status.

- Declining residential tax base, over 1/3 of property in the city has a tax-free use, and large corporate residents who pay no business tax.

- Democrates vs. Republican and Suburban and Rural vs. Urban political fighting that is occuring in most US states these days.

As for what's happening to remedy the problem... 550 or so of the 700+ employees who were laid last year will be rehired, the Council is about to pass a balanced budget with deep cuts into most non-essential services, and the Govorner (ex-Mayor of Philly) is being supportive of more pro urban effots at the capital.
-Sounds like similar problems to what we have here. Its city vs suburb, and a state government that is one of the most wasteful in the country. We have too many people in politics and state govt. that are not needed.

- Annexation is impossible here as well, although one of our assembly dudes is trying to pass legislation that would make it easier to annex towns and cities adjacent to older cities that haven't been able to annex land, when sun-belt cities gobbled up tons of land adjacent to their cities.

-The county won't share the penny sales tax the city forgoe in the 1980's to help the county out of a near fiscal crisis, even though it was only suppose to be temporary until the county got its act together. Now the county is playing hardball with the city.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,483
Points
41
Our municipality got caught with an atrificially-low (due to major annexation) tax rate when the state enacted a property-tax freeze in the 1970s. It's been biting us in the ass for years. Right now, 85% of the General Fund (no exaggeration) goes to public safety (police, fire, communication and their retirees). This is the result of poor management, not the tax rate, but it is exacerbated by the tax rate. There is precious little left to do anything with, but we soldier on anyway.
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
Cardinal said:
A lot of Wisconsin cities are experiencing the financial hardship caused by our state. Our incompetent legisla-ssholes cut funds to cities for years, while spending beyond the state's means, and then when the problem became apparent, dumped it off on local government.
Where have I heard that before?

 

BKM

Cyburbian
Messages
6,463
Points
29
California is notoriously poorly run. Our legislature is wasting time worrying about cat declawing.

We'll see what happens. Right now, a lot of smoke and mirrors to reduce the immediate, direct hit on local governments that was rearing its head (vehicle license fees were cut back again to the levels they were set during the flush period). My City is relatively well off-we didn't get the peak of the boom, but we aren't getting the depths of the trough, either.
 

Mud Princess

Cyburbian
Messages
4,898
Points
27
Rumpy Tunanator said:
Annexation is impossible here as well, although one of our assembly dudes is trying to pass legislation that would make it easier to annex towns and cities adjacent to older cities that haven't been able to annex land, when sun-belt cities gobbled up tons of land adjacent to their cities.
IMHO, that legislation will NEVER be passed. Powerful County leaders would never allow it.

It's sad, though, to see land-locked, long-ago-built-out older cities struggling while their suburban neighbors continue to grow and expand their tax base...
 

jordanb

Cyburbian
Messages
3,232
Points
25
He he. Chicago should just annex everything to Schaumburg for "O'hare expansion."
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
Echoing Cardinal, the city I used to work for lost 5 out of about 80. I wasnt one, I left out of disgust.

On the bright side, err... dark side.... there is a lot of work since smaller towns arent hiring their own staff planners.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
-In the midst of our fiscial problems and job cuts, such as public safety services, Dick Cheney came to town a few months ago to raise money for his campaigns kitty at the city's expense. Police officers had to work overtime due to the added security needs, at a time when the city is being forced to cut these jobs.

-I heard a helicopter circling around my neighborhood and at first thought they were raiding my neighbors house for certian things (he probally was crapping himself). I later learned that it was for big D's security because he was having his fundraiser at some restaurant down the street. They same could be said for when Clinton comes to town. All at the taxpayer's expense. Yet they want to keep reducing the amount of money they give to cities at a time when costs are rising.
 
Top