State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli has some encouraging news for Watertown. A fiscal profile shows the city, financially speaking, is in great shape. Its numbers, he says, can help the city with its higher than state average poverty and unemployment rates. Our Brian Dwyer breaks down the profile and tells us why the comptroller is so confident.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. --A stable tax base. Grabbing revenue. Paying debts. Saving money. All things State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says makes for a healthy city. All things he says the City of Watertown has excelled at, unveiling a fiscal profile on city Wednesday.
"I think that should be a sense of reassurance to the citizens of Watertown and from our point of view, it gives us an example to point to for others to try and follow and emulate," DiNapoli said.
For a city well below the state's averages for poverty and unemployment levels, Watertown's mayor says it has to be that way.
"I think people here live a little closer to the edge," Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham said. "I think that's reflected through the elected officials who try to contain costs maybe more than they did in other more prosperous parts of New York State."
"Providing the environment for economic growth, that's the way to spur an overall economic growth to try to get to that unemployment number, hopefully to go down," DiNapoli added.
A big part of that in Watertown is capitalizing on the growing number of Canadians who travel south to spend the day and also those 30 or so thousand people that make up Fort Drum. Something DiNapoli says the city has done brilliantly. Add to that some local projects Mayor Graham is touting, like the Mercy Building and getting its redevelopment off the ground.
"It's never going to be at the levels that it is in the Hamptons as far as people's incomes, but I think if we can work at redeveloping these projects and make Watertown more of a regional focus, I think that'll start to turn those numbers around here in the city over time," Graham said.
In the next couple of weeks, DiNapoli's office will be releasing a list of what he says are cities, towns, counties, even school districts facing serious financial stress. It's a monitoring system with analysis that he says will help the local taxpayer better understand the process and also how to get more involved in your local government's spending decisions. He says it's a pretty safe bet that Watertown will not be on it.
In that profile, though, DiNapoli warns Watertown against spending too much of that funding balance to offset costs. He says that will limit how Watertown can respond to challenges in the future.