Richards asks for state review of city's finances, operations

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Mayor Tom Richards is asking City Council to approve legislation requesting a comprehensive review of the city's finances and operations. Council members could vote on the legislation at November's Council meeting. 

The review would be done by the state Financial Restructuring Board for Local Governments. Cuomo created the 10-member panel earlier this year to "offer assistance to eligible municipalities." Richards issued a sort-of dismissive press release at the time, and you could understand why. The unspoken implication was that mismanagement — not the disappearance of manufacturing, the erosion of the property tax base, and related issues — is the real culprit behind the mess that upstate cites are in. 

So why would Richards pursue this legislation now? I can think of a few reasons. It could strengthen the city's case for AIM aid parity if the state board does its review and finds that Rochester is running a pretty tight ship, after all, and there's no fat left to cut off the bone. Second, the city could get up to $5 million in grant and-or loans for undertaking the panel's recommendations. So maybe Richards is doing this for the money? 

A co-worker suggested that Richards may want a full vetting of the city's finances as a gift of sorts to his successor in the mayor's office — so he or she knows exactly what's what. That seems a little far-fetched, but who knows? 

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