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Capital Region News

Mayor Asks College To Pitch In Toward Fiscal Stablization

City of Schenectady
Mayor Gary McCarthy

There is debate in Schenectady over town-and-gown issues between Union College and city hall.

Last week, Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy sent a letter off to Union College President Stephen Ainlay, in which McCarthy pointed out that if the school would pay taxes on its off-campus properties, the city and school district would receive an extra $1.35 million in revenue.    "Schenectady has had a tremendous renaissance that's going on in the community. Our fiscal position is greatly stabilized from what it was just a few years ago. And I'm looking to have everybody participate in that fiscal stabilization that has occurred so that we can ensure that the great renaissance continues on into the future."

The mayor is further hoping to coax Union College to pay Schenectady for police, fire and ambulance services. In the letter to Ainlay, McCarthy expressed his concerns.   "We still have a big problem with property taxes in the city of Schenectady, and to make sure I can look to lower 'em systematically in the future, I've gotta have everybody who drives cost in the city help offset that cost. Union College is a great asset, a regional resource, but I would like them to step up to the plate and contribute as many other private institutions do across the country."

The not-for-profit college is exempt from having to pay property taxes. McCarthy insists he's only asking for Union to pay a portion of what it otherwise would be taxed.

College spokesman Phil Wajda:    "Union already plays a key role in driving the economy and cultural vitality of Schenectady and the surrounding region. Almost $300 million in direct spending, employment, construction and student and visitor impact is infused directly into the community each year. Union is also proud of the tens of millions of dollars it has invested to make significant improvements to the neighborhoods surrounding its campus. We remain committed to exploring further opportunities with the city on projects that are mutually beneficial to the college and the community."

Nevertheless, Mayor McCarthy hopes he can still negotiate with the college to help even out operating expenses.

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