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Schenectady City Council sends mayor another budget after veto

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy and Council President Marion Porterfield at a November 13th budget meeting.
City of Schenectady
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy and Council President Marion Porterfield during a budget meeting.

The Schenectady city budget impasse continues. 

There's a revised spending plan on the table for Mayor Gary McCarthy's consideration. By a 4-3 vote Thursday, the city council came up with a new $109 million dollar budget, after McCarthy vetoed the council's first offer last week. The plan was supposed to be approved by November 1st.

Council President Marion Porterfield is a fellow Democrat: "We have given him a budget. It's up to him to veto. I mean, I'm really kind of tired talking about it, just to be honest with you, we're really trying hard to make sure that we can get a budget that helps to make sure that we're taking care of our taxpayers. We're also covering our costs," Porterfield said. "And I believe that what we've visited with the mayor does that, because the concern that he spoke with me about on Friday, was to make sure that he had revenue to cover the cost of the waste, which by the way, is 33% over what it was last year that we allocated. So there's a question to me, why the major increase?"

McCarthy had originally proposed a $111 million dollar package, held up for weeks of special meetings due to disagreements over police and fire overtime funding along with trash, water and sewer fee increases. The council removed the trash collection fee hike, and opted to cut the public safety funds. The council approved its first $110 million plan by a 4-3 vote on November 20th, which McCarthy, recently elected to a fourth term, promptly vetoed.

The newest incarnation of the budget earmarks $1.7 million in ARPA money to cover trash collection. The city has yet to hear from the U.S. Treasury as to whether it can use the funding in that way. Councilor Doreen Ditoro says the spending plan falls short. “They didn't change anything they used, you know, the $1.7 million ARPA money to balance the budget, they still left out the police, fire and police, detective over time, they didn't address the water and sewer and trash issue, which the mayor had in the original budget, which would be, you know, $1.50 per unit per resident per week, so that was not addressed. So it's basically this, they put the same budget out a second time and passed it. So I don't know what the mayor would do. And I haven't personally spoken to him yet,” said Ditoro.

McCarthy did not return calls for comment. He previously has stated he's frustrated by this year's budget process. "The scheduling meetings, the review, the decision making process, it's not one that I believe is results oriented," McCarthy said.

McCarthy told the Schenectady Gazette he'll likely veto the new budget.

Ditoro says she'd like that.

“I'd like to go back to the table again, and see if we can work on this water, sewer and trash issue. So that's what I’d like to do. And I, I don't think I would vote in favor of it unless the full funds were given back to the police and the fire and the police detective units,” said Ditoro. 

The council will meet again Monday night.

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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