The City of Rochester is not going broke and is not getting a control board, said Mayor Tom Richards at a press conference this morning. Richards was responding to a column published in yesterday’s New York Post. Columnist Fredric Dicker wrote that some Upstate cities, including Rochester, are close to bankruptcy and that control boards are possible for these cities.
Richards said the Post “makes its living on bombast” and that it isn’t news that Upstate cities face serious financial challenges. Rochester, as Richards has long insisted, is in better shape than many of those cities, he said. It has maintained a strong credit rating, and for the most part Richards has avoided cuts in major services. Rochester has done this while losing population and property tax revenue.
Richards has always rejected the idea of a control board for Rochester. He says a control board is “an admission of failure” and doesn’t always solve the problems. Buffalo has been under a control board since 2003; “does anybody think [those] years have been successful?” Richards said.
The Dicker article, which cites only unnamed sources, also says that the state was considering tying future aid to cities to financial stability plans. Richards said he had no discussions with state officials on that matter, but that he’d welcome any scrutiny the state wants to give Rochester.
Richards also rejected the tone of the Dicker piece. Cities are the most populous parts of the state and are the civic and economic centers of their communities, he said. Aid to cities is not a handout, Richards said, it’s the state’s job.