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Columns

January 4, 2010

My Turn: Tough financial times will make our community more important to us

This week's "My turn" is by new Oneonta Mayor Richard Miller.

On Jan. 1, I was sworn in as mayor. Since the election in early November, I have been meeting with members of the Common Council, the administration and the mayor, as well as attending as many commission and committee meetings as possible.

I am grateful to all concerned for the openness with which they have shared information and perspectives.

I am particularly grateful to John Nader for his efforts over the past four years and during my transition. His shoes will be hard, if not impossible, to fill. The city is in better condition today than when John took office, thanks to his hard work and that of the Common Council and city staff.

The decline of the world, national and state economies has had a significant impact on us as individuals, and on our local governments. Collectively, our society has been living beyond its means. Nationally, the government can print money and run deficit budgets even though they borrow from our future.

At the local level, we cannot do that. The national economic malaise has resulted in flat or declining state support and sales tax revenue, and fewer grant dollars available for important projects.

It is hard to be optimistic about the economy when the federal government, whether or not we as individuals agree, is undertaking the expenses of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, establishing a national health care program and necessarily continuing to react to the credit and banking disaster.

At the local level, we will have to find creative ways to generate revenue and reduce expenses without undue increases in property taxes. Those responsible for the 2010 budget of the city have done yeoman's work to decrease overall expenses and limit property tax increases to 4 percent.

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