Economic development in New York State — a tale of two cities

Among all the public issues discussed and debated on the federal, state and local levels of government, there is major consensus about the importance of economic matters – creating jobs, stimulating the economy. Once you get past those clichés, however, there is no major consensus about what to do about such things or how to measure the benefits of public development projects. Continue reading

ECC’s finance and management issues lack the transparency required of a public institution

Erie Community College is a public institution with an annual budget of $111 million, 45 percent of which is funded directly by state and county taxpayers. It is a public institution whose administration seems comfortable with talking around funding issues and how the school spends its money.

This blog has posted numerous articles about problems at the College. Last August a series of articles was posted about the financial management of the institution; its contract with Canisius College for dormitory space; and the manner in which the school’s president spends tens of thousands of dollars made available to him in two expense accounts. Continue reading

The City of Buffalo’s fiscal crisis

It is the holiday season. There are decorations everywhere, likely even in Buffalo City Hall. Lots of red and green.

But I’m thinking here more about something familiar to many Western New Yorkers when they think about a crisis in municipal finance. The red and green I’m referring to is the Erie County government financial crisis brought on in 2004 when former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra presented two versions of a 2005 county budget. One would have cut spending in a draconian way – the red budget. The second was the green version, which would have balanced the budget by raising the sales tax by one percent – referred to as the “Medicaid penny.” Continue reading