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Politics

Mayors demand mandate relief

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Upstate mayors are telling the incoming Cuomo administration that they can't make the math work on a property tax cap without mandate relief.

Mandate warning
Mayors from across New York met in Binghamton yesterday to discuss the property tax cap proposed by the incoming Cuomo administration.  They say the idea could bankrupt them, if existing spending obligations (mandates) continue unabated, according to the Press & Sun-Bulletin:

Without reform -- and with Cuomo's tax cap proposal -- Binghamton, now close to its constitutional limit on borrowing, could be sent plummeting into bankruptcy, Mayor Matthew T. Ryan said. That's already happened in Erie County and other New York municipalities. "If we have a 2 percent cap on property tax increases without mandate relief, it's a recipe for disaster," Ryan said Tuesday about Cuomo's tax cap proposal.

Paterson’s long goodbye
Governor David Paterson will sit for an "exit interview" with editors from several upstate newspapers.  It's being hosted in Rochester by the Democrat and Chronicle.  You can watch the meeting online here.

Proactive Buffalo
The Buffalo News reports that the city of Buffalo has a surplus for the seventh year in a row - but not so fast.  Rainy day cash will likely be necessary to offset upcoming cuts from Albany.

Meanwhile Buffalo is developing a "green" building code:

“It’s Buffalo’s sincere attempt to get on the bandwagon,” said Dave Majewski of Premium Services Inc., a local green development consultant and task force member. “I see it resulting in real change, even in the short term.”

Population trends
New data from the American Community Survey shows several trends in Monroe County, according to the Democrat and Chronicle:

Monroe County's population, now estimated at 731,621, has declined by more than 3,700 since 2000. The county's median household income has shrunk by about $6,700, to $51,105. The number of Monroe County homeowners with mortgages has increased about 11,000, while the number without mortgages jumped about 10,000 since 2000.

At least this weather is good for something
Icy, snowy weather has accelerated the season for New York's ice wine harvest, reports the Elmira-Star Gazette:

"Conditions were pretty challenging this year with the blowing snow and 2-degree wind chill, but they weren't insurmountable," said Mark Patterson, wine maker for Casa Larga Vineyards in Perinton. His crew of eight, starting at 5 a.m. Tuesday, harvested 3 tons of Vidal grapes and 1 ton of Riesling for Casa Larga's Fiori line and has about a ton of Vidal to pick today.

Renewal program not renewed
Buffalo Representative Brian Higgins says leaving the "Renewal Community" program out of the federal tax bill would be a "stinging blow" to western New York, reports the Buffalo News:

The program, which is targeted at economically distressed urban areas, provides tax breaks for businesses that employ workers who live within a Renewal Community. It also allows developers to accelerate the depreciation on the cost of acquiring, renovating and constructing buildings in those targeted census tracts as an incentive to attract investors.

Rising metal prices
If it's not cerium oxide it's silver: the rising cost of silver is boosting the price of making film, still a big industry in Rochester.  The Democrat and Chronicle reports that Kodak's CEO says the price increase are starting to cut into profit margins:

Through the 1990s and up until 2004, the price of silver was relatively stable at around $5 an ounce. But starting that year, silver began a dramatic rise, one that has accelerated in recent weeks. Silver started this year at more than $17 an ounce, was averaging more than $20 in September, then $23 in October and $26 in November. Currently it is going for close to $30 an ounce.

Keeping records I
Remember "are you a cop?  If you're a cop you have to tell me!"  Now cops can secretly videotape interrogations in New York - but if they're taping, and you ask, they have to tell you.  AP reports.

Keeping records II
Meanwhile, Governor David Paterson won't be handing over any secret video tapes.  Paterson vetoed a bill that would have governed how his executive records are archived.  As a compromise, Paterson will tag a member of his staff to serve as a "records retention office" to handle the transfer of his archive from Albany to Cornell University, where it will be held.

False alarm
The Times Union reports that a package found at GlobalFoundries on Tuesday wasn't a bomb, just a piece of trash.  No outside help needed, that project could implode all on its own.

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