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Thursday, October 29, 2015

The duties of the City Treasurer for the City of Lockport Charter were adopted by our City’s fathers over 100 years ago. The telephone and automobile were just being introduced to society and city records were kept on paper ledgers. There were no televisions, computers or internet and our city budget was a fraction of what it is today.

Over 100 years ago, New York State did not require, and taxpayers did not demand complex financial reporting, accounting and auditing of a 33 million dollar corporation.

Municipal financing and employment laws have evolved immensely, and rightly so. Unfortunately, the present requirements to run for City Treasurer of being 18 years of age and a city resident, which were adopted over 100 years ago, have not changed with the times.  It is time to be fiscally prudent, and make sure that our city is operated with a finance director with the professional and educational qualifications to ensure that our 33 million dollar municipal corporation is operated appropriately, given the complex and changing times we live in today.  

In December 2013, the NYS Comptroller’s Office issued a Fiscal Stress Report that classified the City of Lockport’s financial stress as Moderate Fiscal Distress.

The city can no longer afford to have a well-liked, but unqualified, citizen be the sole person overseeing the finances of a 33 million dollar operation.  This is confirmed by the NYS Comptroller’s Office reports in three separate audits, which state that the Treasurer’s Office’s performance was so poor that city officials could not make good decisions based on the poor accounting and financial management.

The city is coming out of our financial distress. We have turned the corner and now have a small surplus, and our new Director of Finance is doing a great job reporting city finances accurately and on time every month.

A lot has happened in 100 years. Our country won Two World Wars, we can fly airplanes around the world, and we have traveled to space. Why has it taken so long to address the duties of City Treasurer and municipal finances in our City so it is consistent with our current times? The time has come, the time is here, and the time is now. Let’s make these changes so we can continue to move forward, and not revert backwards again.

VOTE YES on the referendum.

-- Ken Genewick is the outgoing Fifth-Ward alderman for the City of Lockport

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