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Troy mayor delivers virtual State of the City address

 Troy Mayor Patrick Madden delivers his 2022 State of the City address
City of Troy/YouTube
Image capture by WAMC
Troy Mayor Patrick Madden delivers his 2022 State of the City address

Troy Mayor Patrick Madden delivered his annual State of the City address Tuesday night. Madden again presented his plans for the upcoming year virtually.

Mayor Patrick Madden presented his annual State of the City addressin a pre-recorded video that was streamed Tuesday night.

The second-term Democrat opened his second remote address by urging residents who have not yet been vaccinated against COVID-19 to speak with their doctor and get a shot.

“Like you, I am tired. I am frustrated. And I am angry after nearly two years of this virus taking from us the things that we value most, including friends and family. We can bring it to an end. Please do your part. Do it for yourself, do it for your family, do it for your community.”

While Troy’s financial outlook has improved over the last few years, Madden repeated the sentiment of past prior addresses: “we’re not out of the woods yet.”

“Through 2021 we passed five structurally balanced and fiscally responsible budgets that have received the approval of the state comptroller's office. We managed in that time to reduce the city's irresponsible debt and make significant investment in our infrastructure, municipal facilities and strengthen our departmental operations.”

In 2021, Troy received $21 million in American Rescue Act funding. The Collar City also received a $10 million New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative award.

The city is also celebrating after shedding decades-old so-called MAC debt. For the last 25 years, Troy made payments of $6 million to $7 million annually.

But despite the increases in funding, Madden has been cautious about “gimmicks or sleight of hand” in budgeting. The city passed a 2022 budget under the tax cap last year.

“Be wary of those who promise we can do away with fees and taxes while delivering better services, or anyone who says we need to do more with less. That is precisely the mindset and the approach that put a millstone around our neck for the past quarter of a century.”

Madden highlighted a number of investments both planned and set for completion.

A massive project to replace water lines from the city’s Tomhannock reservoir is set to be completed later this year. A stormwater separation project is planned for South Troy, as the city also prepares to begin Phase Two of the South Troy Industrial Roadway.

Meantime, the long-awaited redevelopment of One Monument Square is moving forward under a well-received $60 million plan by company Hoboken Brownstone. And Madden hopes HBO’s “The Gilded Age” series will return to downtown Troy as a stand-in for Manhattan if the show gets a second season.

The city has also begun planning for how to use its total $44 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, with neighborhood meetings set to begin later this month under an initiative called Troy Now. City leaders have sought to focus ARPA fund investment in Troy’s neighborhoods.

“Our overarching objective with the allocation of ARPA funds is to repair damage as best we can, and to create sustainable and lasting impact in our neighborhoods. This is a once in a lifetime investment of such magnitude. And its impact should be reflective of that fact.”

ARPA funding is supporting the planned demolition of the Troy Housing Authority’s Taylor Apartments buildings 1 and 2 this spring. Residents of buildings 3 and 4 are envisioned to move into a new space, before those buildings are demolished in turn and the sites opened for redevelopment.

Madden highlighted efforts in public safety, including expanded police trainings and the elevation of its new chief, Dan DeWolf. A review of public safety services is planned and a police review board was re-formed last June.

But the city police department remains highly white and male demographically. Only 10 of 135 sworn members of Troy PD are people of color, only 13 are women.

“Six years ago, in my first State of the City address, I noted that our workforce was not at all reflective of the diversity of our city. I said that we could do better and that I would do better. I wish I could stand before you today and tout the progress we have made. But truthfully, there has been little more than incremental improvement.”

Madden said he plans to place a Director of Equity and Inclusion in City Hall.

In a statement, Troy city council Democratic minority leader Sue Steele echoed Madden’s concerns about fiscal responsibility:

“The state of our city is positive and fiscally sound - thanks to the bold and courageous strategies implemented by the Madden administration.”

Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello called Madden’s speech optimistic and said in part the council “will continue being the strong watchdog and checks and balances on the administration in 2022.” Mantello will provide a full response and legislative address on March 3rd.

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.