2017 Troy Budget Tax Hike Unresolved
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden sat down Wednesday night with the city council in a continuing effort to reach level ground on Madden's budget proposal.
Madden's $72.3 million spending plan stunned everyone with its 28.2 percent tax hike when it was unveiled in early October. "Last night was a meeting that was intended to put suggestions out on the table regarding my proposed budget, so a number of councilmembers offered some suggestions on ways that we might trim expenditures, and then I offered a set of my own as well."
To pass the budget, at least six of the nine City Council members must vote to override the state tax cap. GOP Council President Carmella Mantello says that over the last four weeks the city council has held 15 different budget meetings. "We sat with the mayor and department heads and we have scrolled through the budget. We heard a common word, unfortunately, which is 'can't.' 'We can't cut this, we can't do that.' So, four councilmembers, myself, Councilman [Mark] McGrath, Councilwoman Ashe [Kim Ashe-McPherson] and Councilman [Jim] Gulli got together and said, 'you know what? We're going to see if we can do a better job at reducing expenditures and getting this 28.2 percent tax increase down."
Mantello says it's a matter of efficiency: doing more with less. Madden advises the council it must choose between adopting the budget he put forward or amending and adopting that budget. "My role at this time is really just to provide them information so they can make the best possible decision regarding a budget that they're going to have to pass. A number of proposals have been floated that could impact the tax increase. My staff and I are sitting down at this time. We're going through each of those proposals, and we will report back to the council with an analysis of each of those."
Mantello has vowed the council will not override the cap above 9.5 percent. "That 9 and a half percent tax hike, it's still a killer and we understand that and we know that there are people with fixed incomes, on Social Security, paycheck to paycheck, however, to bring it down 20 points we didn't cut any core services. It's based on realistic revenues."
Mantello and Madden are hopeful that residents will turn out for tonight's public hearing.
"The mayor really needs to hear, straight from the public, the concern that's out there. The mayor and I have attended at least five neighborhood meetings, talking about the budget. And what this comes down to, Dave, is a true philosophical difference in terms of providing core services to the people of Troy," said Mantello.
Madden adds "Tonight's meeting is an opportunity for the public to weigh in one last time on the budget. The public has been invited to speak at each of the budget meetings that have been held so far, but tonight's meeting is dedicated solely to giving the public an opportunity to speak."