© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Schenectady City Council meets again to approve overdue budget today

Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy reveals his 2024 budget proposal at City Hall, September 29, 2023.
Dave Lucas
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy reveals his 2024 budget proposal at City Hall, September 29, 2023.

After two budget vetoes by Mayor Gary McCarthy, the Schenectady City Council will gather for another special meeting today — 10 days before a government shutdown would take effect.  

The road to reconciling a spending plan has been contentious, challenging and chaotic. The budget was due November 1st. In the weeks since, McCarthy and fellow Democrats who control the council have continued to spar over the roughly $111 million proposal. Sticking points have been water, sewer and trash fees and public safety funding. The last time Schenectady's budget deadline was missed was some 30 years ago.

As they hashed out the proposal, the council removed McCarthy's 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.

Council President Marion Porterfield, a fellow Democrat, said "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.”

In the latest gambit, deliberations included using American Rescue Plan Act money to cover gaps in the spending plan.

McCarthy, frustrated by the impasse, suggested at Monday’s meeting he would take legal action.

"So the case law that's out there, I'm comfortable taking the position that the council has probably waived its authority or opportunity to make modifications to my budget by not adopting something by November 1st," McCarthy said. " So the fact that my budget is presented stands would be the operating budget for 2024, becomes how do we come to that agreement, whether it's starting action tomorrow, Supreme Court Article 78 proceeding, to the city council and the finance commissioner to initiate that. I want to do it in a friendly way so that we end up with a product that is there, but it made clear up any [unintelligible] the unknown, which has been there. If the council doesn't take an affirmative action that there are kinds of sequences, there are things that you have to do where the statute says things were supposed to happen by a certain date, and it didn't."

The budget deal boiled down the council cutting the mayor's trash fee increase in half, leaving his water and sewer increases intact, and restoring two city jobs the council had cut from its two budget proposals.

City Hall said Thursday morning that McCarthy was in meetings and not available for comment.

Councilman Damonni Farley is optimistic about the latest vote. "I expect the budget to pass. I don't believe that it will be unanimous, which is unfortunate. Took a lot of getting here to get here at the same time, but I think that, um, you know, we're in a spot with the council and the administration, where, you know, there's some, you know, points of agreement and some concessions given you know, all in interest in the best interest of the city. And I think that's what we're going to remain focused on moving forward," Farley said. 

The council meets at 5:30.

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.
Related Content