To the Editor:
Once again, Governor Cuomo has proven to be pro-active in recognizing the financial distress faced by so many local governments. St. Lawrence County has been dealing with financial issues for the past few years.
Struggling with growing retirement and health care costs combined with a sub-par sales tax rate, we turned to our state officials for help. Gov. Cuomo recognized the problems here and elsewhere and has proposed a reform of current statutes to aid local governments such as ours.
The Financial Restructuring Board provides an opportunity for individualized assistance. This board will operate working with a municipality’s current fiscal situation, provide solutions and fund (up to $5,000,000) a cooperatively achieved set of recommendations for that municipality to re-establish a solid fiscal plan.
We have every confidence that such a board will be of enormous help to St. Lawrence County; it will reinforce, supplement and provide expert opinions on actions that St. Lawrence County has already begun developing.
In addition, the reform of the binding arbitration law will be a major boost to St. Lawrence County as well.
It will focus on our “ability to pay” when considering salary and compensation packages making their decisions known in a shorter period of time. As a Legislator for St. Lawrence County, I am excited about the governor’s proposal for a Financial Restructuring Board.
It will look individually at municipalities and determine a best practice set of recommendations for that entity -- not trying to fit us into one set of problems and one set of solutions. We all must recognize that our Legislature and many other municipal governing bodies are part-time with most of its members working at other jobs. The expertise of the membership of the Financial Restructuring Board would be invaluable to struggling communities such as ours.
I heartily urge the state Senate and Assembly pass this bill and give their constituents the help they need to overcome the financial distress many find themselves in today.
Sallie Brothers, St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators