State audit casts negative light on Troy finances

TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A 35-page audit has outlined the bad budgeting practices within the city of Troy.

The New York State Comptroller said the city of Troy’s finances are in a “precarious position.” In an audit released on Wednesday, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli slammed the city for routinely using “rainy day funds” to pay for everyday expenses.

It’s an issue the new mayor has now inherited.

“We didn’t get here overnight,” Mayor Patrick Madden said. “It’s going to take a while, but if we put our shoulders to the wheel, I’m sure we can get through this.”

The state audit said the city’s administrations hid deficits by raiding reserves for years. The audit claims that if the city hadn’t drained the water fund to cover day-to-day expenses, it would be dealing with a more than $8 million deficit.

“The comptroller doesn’t necessarily like it, but it’s a standard and a legal practice that occurs,” Madden said.

Troy City Council President Carmella Mantello said it was a practice that covered up years of budget deficits.

“They were hiding deficits, and essentially using the water fund and the reserve account to hide prior deficits,” she said.

But it’s currently impacting the city. For example, after a major water main break in Lansingburgh, the city has plans to replace the section that burst using money from a grant and a loan. But in order to front the $3 million, the city will have to get a bond.

“Normally, you would go into the water fund to front that money and then be reimbursed by the state,” Mantello said. “The money’s not there now.”

Madden said the city has a balanced budget and is living within its means.

“Yes, we are paying our bills,” he said. “We’re limping by.”

However, he said there are difficult decisions to be made. Troy business owner Debra Lockrow hopes the decisions won’t mean more coming out of her pocket.

“I’m a taxpayer, and that’s really where my concern is,” she said. “We don’t want our taxes going higher. I’m trying to be optimistic that the new administration will take care of what the past one might not have been as careful with.”

The comptroller made a series of recommendations to the city, including that they hire an independent auditor to help.

The city has 90 days to release how it will address the comptroller’s concerns.

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