Capital Region Municipalities Face Cuts And Furloghs | WAMC

Capital Region Municipalities Face Cuts And Furloghs

May 7, 2020

Leaders of Capital Region municipalities are preparing for the worst as the coronavirus shutdown devastates their budgets.

Town Supervisor Paula Mahan says the coronavirus pandemic has forced Colonie to cancel summer recreation and other town events. The Democrat says the Albany County town, which has a nearly $100 million budget, is seeking aid from the federal government to avoid further cuts. She says the town is facing a $7 million revenue shortfall.

"And that number could go up. It depends on how long it's going to take to get back to some sense of normalcy, which I think is going to be quite a while. As a local government along with all of the other local governments, we need assistance to get through the crisis and we desperately need federal relief."

Troy Mayor Patrick Madden agrees.

"All municipalities rely on a whole variety of sources of revenue to fund our services and I know we had a very balanced and sound budget right up until mid-March, but then things changed and we're looking at reductions in sales tax and state aid and departmental revenue at a serious level and the most difficult thing right now is we don't know how much we're going to lose those projected revenue sources. So it makes it very difficult to plan to cover that."

Madden, also a Democrat, says cuts will be prioritized as necessary. He says cuts to summer programs will impact young people who have been cooped up at home.

"They had nothing to do. Many of the summer camps are going to be closed down. Basketball courts are off-limits right now. Something has got to be done for these children. If there is a way to open the pool, that would be among our upper priorities. So I'm not ruling that out yet. I may not get that option though. The state may not authorize their opening or the County Health Department may not authorize their opening, but I've not taken that off the table just yet."

Albany is facing up to a $20 million revenue shortfall, according to Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan. Sheehan is asking residents to call President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"And to make it clear that we have to ensure that we are ready to help reopen the economy. So I hope you will join me in reaching out to our friends in Washington to say 'please stand by our Frontline workers,' 'stand by our cities,' 'stand by our kids,' 'stand by our community.'

Perhaps hardest hit of all: Schenectady, where, facing an $11 million loss, Democratic Mayor Gary McCarthy says federal assistance is the only way to avoid cuts to the fire and police departments.

"Some assistance from the federal government would come in and help stabilize not only the city of Schenectady, but you know other communities across New York State, and other communities across the country. You know we're at $11 million. If I eliminate every non-public safety position in the city, we'd still have to cut police and fire to equal those payroll dollars."

Service cuts around the Capital Region are weeks if not days away.