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Troy Budget Update: Mayor Softens Tax Hike

Mayor Patrick Madden
WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden at City Hall, moments before addressing the press. November 18, 2016.

Troy's budget situation is getting more precarious by the day.  The two sides are negotiating through the press.

Mayor Patrick Madden issued a message of neccessity Friday morning to the City Council to pass a local law authorizing Troy to override the state tax cap.

When the mayor’s proposed budget was submitted to the Council on October 7th, the 28.2 percent tax increase it came with drew groans from residents and has been the subject of intense scrutiny and debate ever since.

Friday, the first-term Democrat announced the tax hike has been modified, lowered to 25.3 percent, and he's calling on the GOP-led council to get on with business: override the cap and approve his spending plan.

Madden warned that proposed cuts will result in a grossly underfunded budget and will leave the city without the ability to provide services to its residents and businesses in 2017. "If we do not override the state tax cap, the cuts will be draconian. The services will, several services will cease on January 2nd. The council will still be required to pass a budget under state law, if the tax cap is not overridden."

Madden emphasized that he remains committed to providing his full support to the Council, and claims his door has been open throughout the entire budget process, while warning that suggestions that have been offered by four council members, led by president Carmella Mantello, as solutions to the tax increase, are not.  "The public should not be misled into thinking that there are viable options on the table to bring the tax increase down to 9.5 percent without cuts in services... too many of these suggestions embody the misguided practices that have been employed in previous years to avoid the hard realities of our finances."

Mantello responded:    "I have three other members that join me in what we are saying to the mayor 'You need to reduce expenditures.' If the mayor is saying that giving bumps and raises to political appointees in the corporation counsel's office and other offices is essential, then clearly the mayor is just off-base here. We were prepared that the mayor was going to try to discredit our plan. So we expected this, because since January, the mayor has been using that word 'can't,' 'we can't do this, we can't do that.'"

Mantello sees disaster ahead if the tax cap override fails.  "We could run out of money in August or September of next year. We've asked the mayor, we're worlds apart right now, Dave, and we are ready, willing and able to sit with the mayor. If he wants, we'll meet with him tomorrow, but we're not going to meet for a dog and pony. The people of Troy deserve more than that. The mayor needs to substantially reduce the expenditures in his budget, otherwise there's no sense in meeting."

Madden says his door is open.  "The administration will make ourselves available on evenings and weekends. We've given up weekends and evenings to meet with the council. We're here. We're at the table. We're ready to talk about how we move forward."

Residents of Troy anxiously await those talks.  There's a Council meeting to vote on the budget scheduled for Tuesday, November 29th at 7 p.m.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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