How Fishkill Can Avoid Bankruptcy
By Michael Boyajian
The Poughkeepsie Journal reporting on Fishkill's financial crisis says that scrutiny is required for the $6.5 million bond legislation to move forward. Fishkill has been too secretive in the past and the public has a right to know why so much is being borrowed, what it means for our children and why the municipality is borrowing to pay for operating expenses, a relatively unheard of proposition. The Journal called this an "extraordinary circumstance."
Before any bonds are authorized by New York State an amendment must be added to the Saland bill that would require two things. A Municipal Assistance Corporation to handle the issuance of bonds and other needed assistance taking this out of the questionable hands of the Town Board.
The second thing that must be done is to create an oversight watchdog similar to the Financial Control Board that brought New York City out of its financial crisis in the 1970s. The creation of such a board would take the need for making tough and unpopular decisions out of the hands of elected officials and put them under the control of the Board. The Board would be made up of the Governor, the state Comptroller and the Town Supervisor plus three other industry experts.
Strict financial controls would then be put in place like transparency in all budgetary processes, the adoption of accepted accounting procedures, unimpeded work towards financial responsibility and absolutely no sleight of hand financial gimmickry. Furthermore, the Board would have veto power over any budget proposed by the town. The term of this board would be ten years with an option to extend.
These are tough actions but the Town has found itself in tough times with no real satisfactory explanation for the crisis. Tough times require tough actions and that is what the financial board will provide. In a few years Fishkill may emerge from this crisis providing residents with a secure future just as New York City emerged in the early 1980s and prospers today even enduring tough financial times on Wall Street its main source of revenues. Fishkill may be a small town but its working class residents make this a town that is too important to fail. The key to this crisis is again fiscal responsibility today for a sound future tomorrow.