Mayor Richards gives his first State of the City address | News
In less than three weeks, Mayor Tom Richards will present his proposed budget for next year. At his State of the City address Monday, Richards started the conversation by saying the city will begin the year in the red.
At the address, the mayor painted an optimistic, but honest picture of the city. While there is investment and growth taking place in Rochester, it doesn't change the fact that the city has some financial challenges and difficult decisions ahead.
A one-time $20-million bonus from the state will offset the $40-million Richards says the city would be in the hole. He says the problem is structural, and while Rochester has fewer citizens than it used to, they have bigger needs.
"The only significant source of revenue we control is property tax and it has declined," says Mayor Richards.
The mayor says this means there will be change and some pain.
"There will be cuts in city government. You can't solve a $20-million problem without having an impact. I'm optimistic that I'm going to work my way through this without having an impact on people like I talked about here. That's the secret. You can do things differently."
Police Chief James Sheppard says he doesn't anticipate cuts in his department, but says he's prepared for whatever comes.
"We've known for a number of years public safety was the key driver in terms of where money went and where money was spent in this city.. At the same time I realize we have to share with other city department in terms of contraction...but I think we are still prepared to get the job done," says Sheppard.
City residents, like Theresa Bowlick, shared the mayor's optimism. "I'm hopeful that we will reach out and help one another and make a difference in this community. And that's what the strong point for me was...we have to make it better for ourselves," Bowlick says.
Frank Shepardson says the mayor's address Monday has put his mind at ease.
During his address, the Mayor Richards made reference to the city of Yonkers, which has proposed raising taxes 4% and cutting 73 police and firefighters. He also talked about the Buffalo bailout. Richards says Rochester is by no means close to either of these situations, and that Rochester has resources.