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Approved Schenectady City Budget Still Counting On Federal Relief

Facebook: City of Schenectady

The Schenectady City Council has unanimously approved an $88.5 million budget.

The council tweaked Mayor Gary McCarthy's proposed spending plan that would have raised taxes and laid city workers off. Fellow Democratic City Councilor Leesa Perazzo says everybody did a little bit of compromising:

"But the end result, I thought was highly successful results. we've retained 17 and a half positions that were slated to be paid, you know, taken out of the budget, and people would have lost their jobs, we were able to reduce the proposed tax increase by 1%. And we also cut a raise in the garbage fee, which was originally proposed at $50 in half to 25, which ends up being less than 50 cents a week for people. So given times that were in and given the circumstances that we're under, I think that it was very, very positive outcome for a difficult budget year."

The adjusted budget will carry a property tax increase of 1.7 percent, down from the 2.8 percent proposed by McCarthy, who spoke during Monday night’s meeting after the council approved the budget.

"I want to express my appreciation to the council for their work and efforts in bringing together a budget. We're operating in difficult times and we're hopeful that the rational minds will prevail at the federal level and assist not only Schenectady but other communities across the state and across the country who are dealing with the ill effects of COVID-19."

The spending plan relies on more than $1.5 million in federal aid. Perazzo says there is a "Plan B" if that funding doesn't materialize.

"Originally that was added into state discretionary aid, and the mayor requested that we move it over into federal relief, one way or another, it would be almost unbelievable for us to receive absolutely no financial assistance from either the federal government or the state, especially, you know, during these times. Now that we were very conservative with it last year, that budgeted amount was almost $2.3 million, it will reduce that way down to 1.4. But I, you know, if we have to visit the budget, we have to read the visit the budget, but I would like to believe instead, my approach is instead of assuming we're not going to receive that money, and, you know, laying people off now and then adding them back into the budget later, let's have the faith that it, you know, the belief that that money is going to come through and we can retain these jobs."

Perazzo calls attention to one item that was not factored into the budget:

"The city did borrow $7 million to help the cash flow. So even though we can't show that in the budget, because it's a liability, you know, that money does exist for us. So, you know, that is another reason why we felt comfortable taking the prudent step that we did with regard to the federal aid."

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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