By John B. SnyderAugust 19, 2009
WATERVLIET, N.Y. Aca,!aEURc As the City of Chicago closed for business one day in August to shave millions off of a seriously challenged budget, the City of Watervliet is also sailing through rough waters during this economic downturn and the mayor has issued an "all hands on deck" call to the community, which includes the Watervliet Arsenal.
Public services, such as fire, police, and public works, are critical for this small city that is trying to maintain a quality of life that city leaders hope will not only stem the outflow of its citizens, but also are important to providing a good environment for local businesses, such as the Army's Watervliet Arsenal, Mayor Michael Manning said.
"When you consider some of the city's major revenue streams Aca,!aEURc mortgage tax sharing, sales tax sharing, and state funding Aca,!aEURc they are flat or have declined this year," Manning said. "Due in large part to our entering the 2009 fiscal year with a very conservative budget, we have been able to maintain the number and quality of our public services, as well as having added to the services with our new ambulance program."
Manning said he has challenged every city department to go line-by-line through their budgets to find efficiencies that will allow them to continue to provide a high quality public service, but under budget.
Nevertheless, Manning said the city anticipates a significant increase to its contribution to the New York State retirement fund this year and therefore, these measures may not be enough for his city to weather through the current economic environment. He is now asking the city residents, as well as the Watervliet Arsenal, to get involved.
Manning said he believes that if his 10,000+ citizens and the Arsenal workforce get energized and focused on what they could do to help the city, then, just maybe, the city will work its way through the recession without taking drastic measures such as large tax increases, cuts to personnel, or a reduction to public services.
"Everyday things like residents maintaining their homes so that potential residents get a good first impression of the city to the 1,300 Arsenal employees purchasing their tank of gas or cup of coffee from a Watervliet business will have a tremendous economic effect on the city," Manning added.
"When the Arsenal needed help through the years to stave off closure, the city was always there to help fight to keep the Arsenal open," Manning said.
The Watervliet Arsenal and the city have worked hand-in-hand for nearly 200 years, Manning said. "Now, we need a little help from the Arsenal and I know it will deliver."
Arsenal Commander Col. Scott N. Fletcher agrees with Manning that the Arsenal and the city are not mutually exclusive.
"In fact, we are more of a family than a business venture," Fletcher said. "What is good for the Arsenal is good for the City of Watervliet, and vice versa."
Fletcher acknowledges that the city has been on point to help save the Arsenal from numerous efforts to close the post and therefore, there is a sense of duty to help the city transcend these tough economic times.
The Watervliet Arsenal is home to more than 1,300 employees and is the largest employer in the City of Watervliet. The Arsenal has operated from the City of Watervliet since 1813.