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Mayor Warns Of "Financial Tsunami"

By Dave Lucas

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-878588.mp3

Albany, NY – An area city is about to take steps to avert what its Mayor warns will be a "Financial Tsunami" as we hear in this report from Capital Distrcit Bureau Chief Dave Lucas.

Although experts say the shakey economy is recovering, New York State remains mired in financial crises that have trickled down to local levels as Governor Paterson has delayed payments to local governments and school districts - including 12-and-a-half Million dollars earmarked for Albany, which in turn will force the city to borrow money so it can make an on-time payment into the state pension system. 2nd Ward Councilman Dom Calsolaro is alarmed, because this issue has been "on his radar" for sometime.

With eyes ahead to the 2011 budget, officials fear Albany could be facing a $20 Million Dollar shortfall - In his annual State of the City Address, Albany Mayor Jennings outlined a plan of immediate action - bringing in an outside financial management firm to have a look at city books - Albany will also put together a "task force" of outside financial experts who can asess the fiscal damage and make recommendations - Jennings says that panel will be charged with investigating whether the inequitable distribution of state aid among cities is in violation of the state constitution.

City officials promise the Request For Proposals for a financial management firm will be issued soon: 11th Ward Councilman Anton Konev suggests Albany use people and resources it already has, but Albany's newly-elected first chief City auditor Leif Engstrom tells the Times Union that his office isn't ready to conduct a citywide comprehensive management audit. Mayor Jennings stresses that when it comes to Albany, he's an optimist, confident that the government and the people will be able to solve the latest round of problems.