Binghamton's mayoral candidates talk taxes

By Kelly McCarthy

October 7, 2013 Updated Oct 7, 2013 at 9:17 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) With a month to go before Election Day, the two candidates vying to become Binghamton's next mayor are tackling some of the most pressing issues in the city.

As the two Binghamton mayoral candidates sift through the proposed 2014 budget, it's no surprise they both come to different conclusions.

Democratic candidate Teri Rennia said the city has worked hard to increase savings during the past seven years. Money saved from the city's pension fund, health insurance and an early retirement incentive helped make a proposed 0.03 percent tax increase possible.

"Over the years, even while battling everything that was against us," Teri Rennia said, "The economy, the lack of a fund balance, all of that. We were able to make some really wise investments and now we're able to see the return on some of those investments."

Republican candidate Rich David disagrees. He said the proposed low tax rate is a result of 20 public safety positions cut over the past eight years.

"The city's public safety has been compromised and that's where the savings have come from," Rich David said, "It's come from the back of the city of Binghamton's police department. And as a result, neighbors and neighborhoods across the city are suffering because of it."

Among the different opinions lies one thing on which both candidates can agree, and that is keeping future tax rates stable.

"What we've had is a lot of up and down," Rennia said, "And I think we need to try and maintain a level of stability and there are really a number of ways we can try and do that."

That's a sentiment Rennia's opponent echoes.

"It's very unstable," David said, "So it projects an image that we need to sit back and wait for things to stabilize and that's not good. It means that investment is being withheld in the city."

David thinks the city's overall budget needs more financial accountability. He said working on a long-term multi-year budget is a top priority.

"The more we can plan on a long term basis, the less volatile tax increases really are to our residents," David said.

Rennia wants to work on the city's delivery of services to bring upon big savings to the budget. Changes to the city's garbage pickups, snow plowing and street maintenance will come from the workers themselves.

"The way we're going to achieve a premium service," Rennia said, "I firmly believe is by getting in touch, really sitting down with the people who do the job everyday. If we talk to the people who do the job everyday they will be able to tell us, if we did it this way it would be more efficient."

Each candidate may have a different way of reaching their goals, but both want to see a more productive city.