Mayoral Candidates On Binghamton's Future

By WBNG News

July 22, 2010 Updated Aug 27, 2009 at 6:15 PM EDT

Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan says his challengers are all talk when it comes to the city's financial challenges.

If one shows a real plan to balance the budget without cutting police and fire, he offers to pay their taxes.

Action News reporter Gabe Osterhout went to all the candidates, asking about their plans.

At this campaign event, Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan says he's tired of the political rhetoric.

He says its time to solve the city's the greatest challenges: finances.

Ryan says he's done everything possible during his first term.

"Unfortunately, several economic factors are beyond our control and as a result, we're facing difficult decisions," said Ryan.

One decision is a proposal to close the West Street Fire Station.

But Republican candidate, Rich David, says that's not necessary.

He outlined one proposal to eliminate positions within city hall, like youth bureau director and sustainability development planner.

He says cutting 13 positions could save 700-thousand dollars.

"Most of which were created or re-created by Mayor Matt Ryan over the course of 4 years. These positions should be eliminated immediately. And they should be eliminated before we close one fire station or before we take one police officer off the street," said David.

Ryan says David's proposal would not be nearly enough.

He says the city would need to save 5 million dollars in order to preserve police & fire positions.

Candidate Douglas Drazen agrees with David's principal.

He says if he were elected, he would restructure City Hall from the top, down.

"I would characterize it as a multi-dimensional approach which would begin in the mayor's office and which would extend into every city department and every city facility because I'm convinced there's room for savings in every city department and every city facility and those savings have to be passed on to the people paying the freight," said Drazen.

Drazen admits he has several proposals, but is still working to finalize his grand plan.

Democratic challenger Joseph Merrill says he will unveil his plans for the city's future after Mayor Ryan delivers his budget address next week.

But he did give a sneak peak into one proposal.

"What I want to do is implement a 2 year budget program in the city so we can forecast out two years what our revenues and what our costs are going to be so we can better project where we need to cut, where we need a little more revenue," said Merrill.

Each candidate wants to try to lower taxes for the residents in the city.

And all admit the problem won't be solved overnight.

In Binghamton, Gabe Osterhout, WBNG-TV Action News.

Drazen says he would like to see the City sell the Ely Park Golf Course for more revenue.

But Mayor Ryan says it's impossible because of an agreement when the city took over the course.

David and Merrill say they have more proposals that they will unveil after seeing Ryan's budget projection next week.

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