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Battle over Troy's finances continue

The city of Troy's Corporation Counsel Dana Salazar, Mayor Carmella Mantello, Comptroller Dylan Spring, and Deputy Mayor Seamus Donnelly discussing 2023's fourth quarter finances with the council in May 2024
Samantha Simmons
The city of Troy's Corporation Counsel Dana Salazar, Mayor Carmella Mantello, Comptroller Dylan Spring, and Deputy Mayor Seamus Donnelly discussing 2023's fourth quarter finances with the council in May 2024. At June's finance meeting, Spring was unable to answer many of the council's questions regarding 2024's first quarter finances.

The battle over Troy’s finances continues.

Tensions are growing over first quarter finance reports from the comptroller for the second month in a row. The situation came to a head at Thursday’s June finance meeting, when the new comptroller left council chambers.

Comptroller Dylan Spring, who was confirmed by the council in February, was unable to answer many of the council’s questions during the meeting.

As the council moved forward with questions, District 3’s Katie Spain-McLaren asked Spring about insurance expenditures, which exceeded more than 90 percent of the budgeted amount for this year, in the first quarter.

In trying to understand the material, Spain-McLaren apologized to Spring, noting that she is new to the position, too. Spain-McLaren joined the council in January. Democratic Council President Sue Steele replied to Spain-McLaren that Spring is also new to the role. Spring then responded:

“You don't have to keep stabbing me, Council President, it's not very nice, very making me very anxious,” Spring said.

Steele, who immediately apologized to Spring, reiterated her apology after Spring left the meeting. She says the comment was not intended as a slight.

“It's OK if you're new, other people are new too, and that there are no foolish questions. Even if you're new, that's OK to ask questions,” Steele said. “But the reaction was over the top, either he was under duress or stress and just blew at the least provocation.”

Spring gave councilors just minutes before the regularly scheduled meeting to review the report. Council President Pro Tem Thomas Casey insisted the council had enough time to review the materials.

““I got to review it,” Casey said. “It was pretty, you know, look at the numbers from before last year, and I think we have plenty of follow up time.”

Steele allowed the meeting to move forward with a brief overview of the finances, asking for a more in-depth review at July’s finance meeting. Spring then went through the report, often unable to answer councilors’ questions and instead saying he was unsure or would get back to the council with more information. He said some numbers were an approximation based on data from the last comptroller, but isn’t sure where the figures came from.

Steele says she has not spoken with Spring or Republican Mayor Carmella Mantello since the meeting. Since taking over as council president in January, Steele has noted a lack of communication between the executive and legislative branch.

“They communicate with the majority, but they don't communicate with me as president or others and we don't have access to department heads that we used to have either, which is actually in violation of the charter,” Steele said. “So, it's not a good environment at city hall.”

The first quarter report was initially due to the council April 30th, a month after the quarter ended.

Mantello, the council’s prior president of eight years, declined WAMC’s interview requests and instead provided this statement:

"Last Thursday, the City Comptroller presented the vast majority of our first-quarter report before being verbally attacked by Council President Steele. The complete report has been delivered and is publicly available. We remain in good financial standing, with permanent salaries and overtime considerably decreasing. The city, as always, is available to answer any remaining questions the Council may have. That being said, I will not tolerate the berating or harassment of my staff, whether on or off camera. The City of Troy looks forward to working with all members of the Council in a respectful and productive manner going forward."

During the meeting, the council also approved a renegotiated contract between the city and the Police Benevolent and Protective Association. The previous agreement had expired in 2023. The new agreement sets a new recording policy for body-worn and fleet cameras and increases to holiday and vacation days. Steele says she is concerned over potential increases to overtime costs.

Corporation Counsel Dana Salazar says the five additional days won’t significantly increase costs.

“The template that we used in conducting these negotiations and evaluating fiscal impact in various proposals was created by the former comptroller. Those statistics were not built into the formula,” Salazar said. “Dylan was scrambling to get first quarter numbers together. So, we were unable to pull together the level of detail that would carry over to holiday time at this time. But the numbers that we have gave us the general sense of the financial impact based on the calculations that were used for prior contract.”

The three-year agreement also increases officer salaries and establishes a list of certain types of light duty.

Samantha joined the WAMC staff after interning during her final semester at the University at Albany. A Troy native, she looks forward to covering what matters most to those in her community. Aside from working, Samantha enjoys spending time with her friends, family, and cat. She can be reached by phone at (518)-465-5233 Ext. 211 or by email at ssimmons@wamc.org.
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