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Budget Plan Crippled, Troy Mayor Claims "Financial Chaos"

The Troy City Council
Lucas Willard
The Troy City Council

Inside a tense City Council chambers Tuesday night, after weeks of often pointed public debate, Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello said communication between the Majority Steering Committee and Mayor Patrick Madden had broken down.

“We’ve attempted to come to a compromise with the city administration as late as last night. However, to no avail. Therefore, we have no choice as a Majority Steering Committee to vote ‘no’ on a proposal to override the tax cap,” said Mantello.

The first-term Democratic mayor introduced a budget with a 28 percent property tax increase back in October, intended to fix long-standing financial issues within the city.

The Republican-led steering committee countered with a proposal with a 9.5 percent increase, still well above the tax cap. Numbers were tossed back and forth, but the two sides could not come to an agreement.

On Tuesday night, a local law to override the state property tax cap to allow for the spending plan failed.

Following an animated discussion between councilors, residents took to the microphone expressing disbelief.

Troy PBA President Aaron Collington said because of the city’s dire financial straits, 15 police officers have recently left Troy for other communities. Tuesday night, he revealed that 10 more officers may leave.

“This is not only a huge embarrassment to us, but more importantly a huge financial burden on every single taxpayer. Taxpayers should be very concerned and should be asking, ‘Why are we losing good cops,’” said Collington.

As a frustrated audience exited council chambers, Mayor Madden spoke to the press in his office. He used two words to describe the situation.

“Financial chaos,” said Madden.

The mayor defended his tax increase, saying the city is out of “one-shots” budgeted in previous years. He’s pointed to a review of the plan by the Office of the State Comptroller that he says found his fiscal projections to be “reasonable,” but the budget plan provides minimal funding for capital expenditures and does not anticipate the impact of settlements with six expired collective bargaining agreements.

Without the authorization to override the tax cap, the budget plan would be out of balance.

“I’m not sure I know what happened in there. No budget was passed. I have no spending appropriation. If the council doesn’t pass a budget by the end of December, I don’t have authority under our charter to pay for anything. So the city shuts down,” said Madden.

Madden said his office would review potential layoffs, as many as 90, and expected to be in touch with state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli within 48 hours.

But Wednesday morning, Mantello sent out a press release calling the mayor’s statements misleading.

On Tuesday night she maintained that according to the city charter, if the mayor’s budget is not adopted by the council, it will still go into effect on January 1st.

Because the city is not overriding the tax cap, a spending plan would be restricted to a tax levy increase of only .68 percent, approved by the council Tuesday night.

Mantello says it’s now up to Madden to amend his proposal.

“What the mayor will have to do is create a deficit reduction plan because the mayor’s budget will be out of balance. He has a 28 percent, $5.9 million increase. And he will only have $168,000,” said Mantello.

Mantello said an override of the tax cap without an agreed upon spending would allow the mayor’s original budget of 28 percent to go into effect.

Madden said he would seek legal counsel to determine his next course of action. 

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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