Cities already struggling with structural deficits will face much darker times ahead due to the downturn in the economy, according an analysis done for the National Tax Journal and published in the New York Times.
The analysis was especially depressing for Upstate New York: The three cities with the bleakest outlooks, according to the report, are Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse.
Capital Tonight’s Susan Arbetter spoke with Christine Chung, a professor at Albany Law School and Director of the Albany Law Institute for Financial Market Regulation, about why these cities are in particularly bad shape.
First, said Chung, all three cities have depended, in part, on the state to help close budget gaps. With the state also in financial hot water, that safety net is now gone.
Chung also said that cities, like Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, that have shrinking tax bases, are getting hit with both increased costs thanks to COVID-19, and increasing obligations. Those obligations include the costs of aging infrastructure, as well as the benefits paid to current and former employees in the form of pension costs.
Chung explained there are only a few things cities like Rochester can do to right the ship. These include identifying further efficiencies, spurring economic activity, and engaging in discussions with public employees about salaries and post-employment benefits, including pensions.