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Troy Votes To Accept $45.6 Million In Relief Aid

The Troy City Council met for Thursday's regular meeting
Screen capture of City of Troy livestream by WAMC
The Troy City Council met for Thursday's regular meeting

The Troy City Council voted Thursday night to accept more than $45 million in federal coronavirus relief funds. 

“Oh my gosh. This is certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity for the City of Troy.”

Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello says the $45.6 million award for the Collar City under the American Rescue Plan coronavirus relief bill is “very, very exciting,” but at the same time…

“We’re moving cautiously and slowly, we’re waiting for the final guidelines. We’re going to build the infrastructure to get these monies out the doors,” said Mantello.

The Troy City Council during its regular meeting Thursday voted to accept the windfall and also hired its first consultant to help utilize the funding. An ordinance the council passed allows $250,000 of the ARP funding to go to administrative expenses.

The city is retaining the Bonadio Group firm for financial advising.

Troy Comptroller Andy Piotrowski provided an example of how the advising will work during the last Troy City Council Finance Committee meeting in July.

“There is another Bonadio client in Western New York who is doing the same thing with us with the same exact engagement letter. There is a city in Central New York who is doing, my understanding, is headed toward doing the exact same thing. They will come in and consult and will look at allowable uses ahead of time and say, ‘This is allowable, this is not allowable. The path you’re going down from a financial sense is not allowed under the rules.’ For example, they are going to review the calculation I have done for revenue replacement in 2020.”

The city also plans to hire an attorney to provide legal services, and a public relations and marketing firm. Funding will also be used for office and meeting space outside of city hall.

For past major projects – the redesign of Monument Square as one example – the City of Troy has held community input sessions to help shape its vision.

During the same July Finance Committee meeting, Troy Deputy Mayor Monica Kurzejeski explained why the administration is seeking an RFP for a PR firm.

“We’re looking to be creative, we’re looking to handle the press, we’re hoping to do community events…like, it’s a really expansive RFP if you take a look at it. And we wanted to make sure that it was able to capture everything that we anticipated we were going to have to get out. If we develop a program, it’s developing flyers for it, it’s creating bullets for it, it’s getting the media out and sending a press release out so all of you can share it into your community groups. It’s networking with all the neighborhood groups. So that’s a really important piece, and I know that’s that we don’t typically do as a city and that’s even more important, because we gotta get the money out.”

As the city builds its internal infrastructure to handle the funding, Mantello says she has some wishes for the funding. She wants to investments in youth programs, neighborhoods, affordable housing, parks, and support for small businesses.

The relief funds must be spent by 2026.

Mantello says she hopes to have a PR firm chosen in September, the same month the city expects the final guidelines for the American Rescue Plan money.

“And then we can immediately start going out and reaching out to our neighborhood organizations, to residents, to businesses and really get that necessary input. And then start, literally, grant programs and other projects immediately.”

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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