Every year, it seems like your taxes go up and your services go down. That's because hundreds of municipalities are on the verge of a financial crisis. As YNN's Katie Gibas reports, state senators are holding a variety of public hearings on fiscal distress. The first meeting was held on Tuesday in Syracuse.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It is becoming an all-too-familiar story, as communities raise taxes and cut services to make up for an increasing deficit.
"Very hard, political decisions have been made. So we are sort of out of rabbits that we can pull out of our hat unilaterally to help save us," said Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner.
That is why State Senator Jack Martins is holding several public hearings to see just how stressed New York's communities are.
"It can't just be a case of asking the case to pick up more and more because it's the same tax base. Whether the tax payers are paying for it from their right pocket or their left pocket, it's still the taxpayer paying for it," said Senator Jack Martins.
Although there has been much talk of financial collapse in every community, according to the State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's Fiscal Stress Monitoring System, only 24 of the 1000 communities it has financial data on are financially stressed. But they say these meetings are important to discuss all of the issues facing municipalities to prevent any one of them from falling off the fiscal cliff.
"Bankruptcy is the last option that we would ever want to take. For municipalities to go bankrupt in our state, it has a lasting impact, not only on the municipality. It can be tied up in court and while those court decisions are being made, there are payments not being made. There are employees and services not being provided. So bankruptcy is not a great option," said Nathaalie Carey, the NYS Assistant Comptroller Local Government and School Accountability.
However, Miner said the comptroller's numbers don't mean much to those making tough choices every day to stay financially solvent.
"We're all under fiscal stress. I can tell you every mayor I talk to, every county executive, every superintendent says that we're all under of fiscal stress. And we're all going to get crisis point sooner rather than later," said Miner.
Once these hearings wrap up, legislators will take the information they've gathered back to Albany to come up with a comprehensive plan to help local municipalities.
The budget documents, including State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli's list of financially stressed municipalities, and Mayor Miner's breakdown of the city's budget, can be viewed below.