Mayor Lou Rosamilia Gives State of the City Address
February 02, 2012
STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS
Mayor Louis A. Rosamilia
February 2, 2012
Download Address | PDF
Thank you Council members and thank you distinguished guests.
It is an honor to be here tonight. It is a privilege to deliver my first State of the City address as Mayor of Troy.
When I began my campaign for mayor I pledged not to dwell on the politics of the past.
I want to reinforce that pledge to the residents of Troy, to the community leaders and neighborhood groups, and to the esteemed members of our City Council.
It’s a new day. A new Administration. A new City Council.
It’s time for all of us to look ahead and get down to the business of running this City. That’s what we were elected to do. That’s what residents expect and deserve.
It’s clear that nothing is going to be easy, and it shouldn’t be.
One of the most eye-opening parts of my first month in office has been the sheer volume of interest and passion people demonstrate toward our City.
People have stopped in to say hello and share their concerns and thoughts. I’ve met with neighborhood
groups and community leaders – each with their own priorities and positions on what their community
Opinions, suggestions, and ideas are all very different. But our goal is consistent and unwavering – to make Troy a better place to be.
As the City’s elected leaders, the way to ensure our community improves is through collaboration. It’s by working together, overcoming differences - showing a strong voice of opinion, but an even stronger willingness to listen.
We have the means and the ability to work together and revitalize our City.
In 2012, we are going to take immediate steps to do just that.
Step 1: Safe Schools = Safe Neighborhoods
Later this month our School Resource Officers are being restored on a full-time basis in Troy High, Lansingburgh High, and Doyle Middle School. You heard me discuss that it is critical to have these officers in the school every day, and we are going to make it a reality.
Each and every one of us can remember an individual from our school days who helped inspire us – or
teach us something we never would have learned – or steer us away from a bad decision or wrong
There are people right now on the faculty and staff who carry out those responsibilities every day. We
are going to give them even greater support, and we are going to give the children in those schools even
more resources to find guidance that may not always be discussed in a classroom.
The presence of these officers among the young people of our community benefits all of us:
• It benefits the children who receive their guidance, support and mentoring;
• It benefits the school, to have an experienced member of our police department on-site in the unfortunate event of an emergency.
• It benefits our Police Department because it creates an avenue for information to flow from our school campuses to the precinct; and
• It benefits our communities in keeping crime, violence and illegal activity AWAY from the
places where our young people learn their most valuable lessons.
There are costs associated with the SRO initiative. We are working to identify and explore ways to mitigate those costs through grant funding or other mechanisms.
But safe neighborhoods begin with safe schools – this is a cost worth paying.
The price for NOT doing it is far more expensive for all of us.
Step 2: Building the Public Trust
In the coming weeks I will do my part to identify my appointments to the City’s Ethics Commission, and I look forward to working alongside every member of the Council to finalize the construction of this body by the end of February.
This Commission will oversee the activity and professionalism of individuals who are paid by taxpayers. This is not a matter of legalities or interpretation of the law. It’s about what is right or wrong. It’s about acting responsibly and professionally – not from 9 to 5 – but 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
As representatives and employees of the City, we are here to provide services and programs to residents. We are not here to engage in back-room deals, pay-to-play politics or be shown favorable treatment that is not available to other residents.
I firmly believe that City employees should be held to a higher standard. This panel will be charged with helping to re-establish that standard, ensuring that all city employees adhere to it, and review the rare circumstances where there may be a discrepancy with expectations.
The Ethics Commission has been inactive since the end of 2010. It’s time to refocus and refine the manner in which the City’s business is carried out. A Gallup poll in late 2011 showed that 81% of Americans were dissatisfied with the way the country was being governed.
As the leaders of this City, it’s time to take immediate steps to restore public confidence in government.
Step 3: City’s Finances, Operations
Maintaining high standards in the WAY WE CONDUCT ourselves is an important part of building public trust. Another critical component to restoring confidence is HOW operations and services are actually delivered to the community.
My background in finance and accounting means I’m pretty proficient with numbers. It also means I can be pretty cheap.
My administration is now reviewing each division of City Government. I have asked Deputy Mayor Peter Ryan to lead this assessment and look for answers to several questions regarding the deployment of resources and services:
• Are there ways to operate more efficiently?
• Are there redundant services that waste time and resources?
• Are the right people in the right positions?
• Where can we save money?
The City’s business will be carried out by qualified individuals, who are dedicated to their work and to the City, and services will be delivered in the most efficient and effective way possible. Being fiscally responsible and operationally sound are not mutually exclusive.
In fact, they are both essential qualities for us to reach our goals in 2012 and beyond.
We’re reviewing how things are done, but we’re also thinking about how things can be done better.
For example – Of the four major cities in the Capital District – Troy, Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga
– only ONE closes City Hall before 5 p.m. … and that’s us.
If you work all day, if you have to pick your child up at school or daycare, or if you have to run an errand, how can you possibly get to City Hall and take care of business before 4:30? You can’t.
Why don’t we come up with a way to make things more user-friendly for residents? Why not have extended hours one day a week? It seems like a matter of convenience and common sense.
That’s just one very basic example. It is through that lens that we will continue the process of auditing of all City government divisions to see where efficiencies exist, where streamlining can take place, where money can be saved, and where services can improve.
Step 4: Economic Redevelopment
We are going to be fiscally disciplined – I can promise you that. That doesn’t mean there aren’t exciting, revenue-generating opportunities and neighborhood investments ready for 2012.
Since being elected, I think I’ve attended more ribbon-cuttings than staff meetings. That’s saying something – and it’s a trend I’m optimistic will continue.
I am excited about the prospects the coming year holds for economic development. Over the next several months we will break ground on new projects, welcome in new businesses, and invest in our neighborhoods to raise the quality of life for residents, and make Troy a better place to live, work and visit.
In 2012 we can look forward to some transformative initiatives that will help our City for years to come:
• We are going to break ground on City Station South in the next few weeks.
• As soon as construction season begins - which feels like it could be moved up to next week - we will start the second phase of the South Troy Reinvestment Project, putting more than $2 million into the neighborhood for sidewalk repairs, planting trees, street paving and other improvements.
• This year we will begin the planning process for a similar three-year infrastructure improvement project in the North Central Neighborhood.
• Bombers Burritos started in Albany, expanded to Schenectady, and in 2012 will move across the River into Troy - establishing another known, successful area business here in the Collar City.
These are just a few of the projects I’m excited about. There will be more to come.
Over the next year we will have major initiatives and proposals to look at. We will raise the appeal and level of interest in working in Troy, and we will identify opportunities to generate a solid core of new businesses that help our local economy.
A big part of that will be our new Planning Commission. Over the next several weeks, we will be interviewing candidates and identifying the best of the best, and appointing skilled professionals and experts who can put us on a prosperous track.
I genuinely appreciate all the efforts of the members of the previous Planning Board and I have expressed that to each one of them personally. This is a tough job that requires a unique work ethic and in-depth knowledge of what our City can offer.
That will not change as we move from a Board to a Commission.
As Mayor, I feel that the future economic vitality of our City should be in the hands of individuals with professional expertise and experience in relevant areas of economic development. Formalizing these requirements for Planning Commission members is the right thing to do.
There are opportunities out there – and we will pursue many of them.
This morning, I took part in the Regional Economic Development Council meeting along with other leaders from across the area. Last year, Governor Cuomo awarded $785 million in grants through this initiative. Another round of state funding is on the table, with more state dollars at stake.
Last year the Capital Region was awarded $62.7 million in grants to fund 88 projects. The City of Troy received less than $1.1 million.
This year we will be aggressive in identifying projects and submitting proposals to be considered for Regional Council grants. It’s important that more of this funding finds its way into Troy.
The final grant awards go through a rigorous review and are selected by a panel. There are certainly no guarantees. In 2012 you can be sure that during this process, Troy will have strong representation and a constant presence to ensure our interests are heard.
Step 5: Back Taxes
The economic climate in recent years has generated economic policies and regulations that take aim at creating financial “fairness.” New tax proposals and structures look to level the playing field.
“Fairness” seems to be a common buzzword you hear in the highest levels of government.
That’s a good thing.
There’s a much more basic issue of fairness that exists right here at the City level. It is an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
More than $10 million dollars is owed to the City in back taxes. That’s more than 12 percent of the City’s operating budget. While the majority of hard-working residents pay their taxes on time, every year, the number of delinquent dollars keeps climbing year after year.
Our budget and financial leaders are going to come up with a way to get that money back. We are going
to devise a creative and effective way to recoup the money that we’re owed.
I can’t tell you what shape this is going to take. I recognize that we will not be able to recoup every
dollar that we’re owed.
There are further discussions that will take place. There are a number of factors and options to consider. We will have a tax recovery program that starts to chip away at delinquent taxes. It’s only fair to the residents who do their part.
More Work to be Done - City Hall
These are five important steps for us to improve the City of Troy. Our work doesn’t begin and end with these measures.
There’s a lot to be done.
Among the other items on our immediate agenda is finding an alternative to the lease agreement we currently have for City Hall.
It is going to be a process. It is going to be a challenge – but I welcome the opportunity to resolve it.
In my opinion – and I think all of you would agree – a “For Lease” sale on City Hall sends the wrong message.
I respect the fact that people would like a swift decision. No one wants this matter resolved more quickly than I do.
Putting the “message” aside … from a pure financial standpoint, the current agreement is unsustainable to the point of irresponsible.
While I realize the appeal of a quick fix, this Administration will not play fast and loose with taxpayer dollars.
Reaching the most sensible and cost-effective solution requires thought, time and energy. We have been engaged in conversations, we have looked at a number of options, and talked to a number of people.
At this point we are not taking anything off the table.
Collaborating to Change
Our current City Hall situation is not an ideal scenario. But as I’ve said – it is not a problem. It’s an
I am profoundly honored to be Mayor of Troy and take that position as seriously as possible. I will work hard every single day I’m in office, and I am keenly aware that as Mayor, it is my duty to put the interests of residents and the benefit of the community first.
When it’s all said in done – a position in politics is a temporary job.
I hope that when my time as Mayor is done, the City is in better shape than it is right now.
However, whether or not that happens is not entirely up to me.
Troy’s long-term success depends more on the people of the community than it ever will on those who sit on this Council or those who occupy City Hall.
The people of Troy are the foundation of our great city and THEIR actions set the course for how we are going to succeed in the future.
I recognize that making a change for the better is no easy task.
Change is tough. Change takes time. Change has more impediments and detractors than you could ever
If you live in Troy, and want things to change for the better here – than be a part of the process and help facilitate positive solutions.
Little things matter, and as a community, our residents should be “All In.”
Do your shopping here in Troy. Go to dinner here in Troy. Support the businesses here in Troy. Engage in community activities. Get to know your City Councilperson. Join your neighborhood association, or if you don’t have a neighborhood association – start one.
They sound like little things. Believe me, added together, those little things are more important to the health of our City than anything else we’ll discuss tonight.
A consistent, collaborative approach is the way we can change things for the better.
And step-by-step, I think we will achieve all our objectives.