Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today detailed a proposal to create a Financial Restructuring Board to help distressed local governments manage their finances. The proposal includes an alternative binding arbitration process that municipalities and unions could voluntarily opt for to resolve contract issues in an expedited procedure.
"Growing retirement costs, declining populations, decreasing property values, and the recent fiscal crisis have all contributed to the difficult financial issues facing localities today," Governor Cuomo said. "The Financial Restructuring Board will bring together state and local officials to help localities make tough decisions and solve this crisis now instead of kicking the can down the road."
In today's presentation, the Governor detailed how more money is not the solution to help local governments solve their fiscal issues. The State's existing Aid and Incentives for Municipalities (AIM) program does not reflect local government need or performance, and already constitutes a large percentage of the budgets of New York's largest cities (outside of NYC):
The proposal to help fiscally distressed municipalities includes the following details:
Financial Restructuring Board: The Board would include the State Budget Director, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Comptroller, and one private sector restructuring professional. The Budget Director would establish standards to determine which local governments qualify as fiscally distressed. Fiscally distressed local governments would be able to request the assistance of the Board, and work together to identify a specific restructuring plan.
Implementing Restructuring Plan: The 2013-14 Budget includes up to $80 million to assist local governments with reorganization plans. Recommendations of the Board would be binding upon any municipality that accepts funding. The Board may require development of multi-year financial plans, functional consolidation, mergers, shared services, fewer elected officials, and other measures.
The Board would also serve as a binding arbitration panel: The Board would provide an alternative to the binding arbitration process for police, fire, or deputy sheriff unions if municipalities and unions agree. The Board would render an arbitration ruling within 9 months.