Earlier this week, reports surfaced suggesting that Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli might be quietly planning to create a sort super control board with the power to step in manage the finances of cities, towns and counties on the brink of bankruptcy. Capital Tonight reporter Nick Reisman caught up with both DiNapoli and Cuomo to ask them about that plan.
NEW YORK STATE -- State officials won't rule out the creation of a so-called "super control board," a statewide entity that would be empowered to step in and manage the finances of fiscally troubled local governments. But Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday the root cause of cash-strapped municipalities needs to be dealt with first.
Cuomo said, “The question would be how do you use that mechanism going forward. But you have to use see what the specifics are, what locality, what municipality, what's the problem, what are you trying to solve. Before you design the solution you need to understand the problem.”
The causes of financial stress vary from city to city and county to county. But generally the blame is placed on the great recession, a shrinking tax base over the last several decades and increasing pension costs. Control boards have already been put in place for many communities, including the City of Buffalo and Nassau County. Newburgh officials wanted a control board, but the state wouldn't grant one.
“We don't have a one size fits all strategy on control boards in the state, even with the ones that are in existence right now and we're going to see if there might be some recommendations that we'll make should there be a move to having additional oversight with control boards down the road,” New York State comptroller Tom DiNapoli said.
DiNapoli says creating a super control board is one of many options his office is looking at, but isn't backing a specific plan right now.
“That may or may not include some statewide superstructure. But I think it has to be talked about,” DiNapoli said.
Standing in the way of creating a super control board would be both mayors of cities and unions, who wouldn't want to lose the power to control their budgets.
“The devil's in the details. I will now have five cities in my district. All of them need help but I don't think they want to relinquish control but to have a board available to them for advice, economic support at times, I think is a great idea,” said State Senator Neil Breslin.
A coalition of big city mayors from Rochester, Albany, Yonkers and Syracuse released a statement Monday expressing a decidedly cool opinion of a super control board.