2012-08-31 / Letters

Clean Your House

Dear Editor,

The real question everyone misses concerning a municipal scandal which involves $1 billion in federal aid currently unspent by the New York City Housing Authority is how NYC has managed the $20 billion plus post 9/11 aid as well as the billions of other dollars from Washington every year. The same also applies to billions in yearly assistance from Albany, along with billions in locally generated tax revenues. Does NYC submit grant applications on time? Are current federal and state funded programs being completed on time and within budget? What is the justification for carrying over unspent funds year after year? Is there waste, fraud or abuse? Are all change orders for construction projects fair, reasonable and documented?

Have NYC Comptroller John Lui and NYS Comptroller Thomas Di- Napoli conducted audits of each respective municipal agency to see if NYC is doing a good job managing current federal and state aid programs? What oversight have NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Public Advocate Bill deBlasio, the Council Finance Committee, NYC Office of Management and Budget and the Independent Budget Office provided?

It is difficult to convince Washington to grant more money when the country is currently running annual budg- et deficits over $1.2 trillion accompanied by long term debt approaching $17 trillion. Ditto for Albany with a long term debt approaching $70 billion. In past years, NYC public officials boasted of a budget surplus worth billions, which disappeared in the dead of night when the stock market dropped.

NYC municipal debt was $43 billion in 2001. In 2012, it has reached $68 billion with each resident’s portion of this debt going from $5,300 in 2001 to over $8,000 today. This per resident capital debt makes the Big Apple number one nationally. This is nothing to be proud about. Each year a greater percentage of the NYC budget goes toward debt payments rather than funding current badly needed essentials such as police, fire, sanitation, education and other social services. No elected official has stepped forward to develop any plans to reduce this long term debt. Debt service payments now represent 16 percent of the municipal budget.

NYC needs to put its own fiscal house in order before asking both Albany and Washington for more assistance.

LARRY PENNER

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