First-term Troy Mayor Patrick Madden announced his goals for his third year in office Thursday night during his State of the City address.
The word Mayor Patrick Madden chose for how he feels going into 2018 — “optimistic.”
“Optimistic that our present challenges are smaller than our possibilities. Optimistic that we can create a future that measures favorably with the greatness of our past.”
The city is improving in some ways, with home ownership on the rise and more businesses moving in.
The first-term Democrat highlighted accomplishments made over the past two years, despite large fiscal challenges. Madden’s first two budgets included a significant tax hike and a controversial trash fee. But the mayor used familiar language to describe the city’s financial situation.
“Going forward we are committed to fiscal discipline and fact-based budgeting. Though we are not out of the woods yet, we are on the right path and headed in the right direction. The process of kicking the can down the road has ended.”
The city’s credit rating has improved and the mayor says the New York State Comptroller’s office lists the city in the “lowest tier of risk for fiscal stress.”
But the cutbacks of the last two years were not easy, says Madden.
“We made some cuts at the golf course, we made some cuts in the parks, we made some cuts on summer help for streets, and it showed. And we weren’t happy with it, residents weren’t happy with it. But again, it was a situation where we had X dollars and we tried to get the most we could with that X amount of dollars.”
The announced closure of the city’s swimming pools at the end of 2016 sparked protest from residents. Local non-profits banded together last summer to bolster their kids’ programming. Madden said the city aims to boost participation in youth programs this year.
The city grappled with significant infrastructure failures during the law two years. One notable project from 2017 was the replacement of a 100-year-old water line in Lansingburgh.
Large projects in 2018 include sewer and water upgrades, more street paving and sidewalk repairs, and the long-anticipated Seawall Flood Mitigation project.
The mayor dedicated four paragraphs of his speech to public safety. Recently, the police department’s chief and deputy chief retired. Its acting chief will step down in the next few months.
“This change in leadership will usher in an increased emphasis on community policing and a robust commitment to modern community engagement. To that end, command staff and I have been in conversation with the U.S. Department of Justice since last fall. Their community relations service officer, including its regional director, have committed to working with us in an effort to develop specific policies and practices to maximize the community’s engagement,” said Madden.
Troy recently came under fire after a January report from the state attorney general’s office into the city’s response to police-involved shootings. The report also sparked outcry from some city residents, who called for an end to police violence.
In short, the attorney general’s office concluded that the Troy police and the Rensselaer County D.A. bungled the investigation into an officer-involved fatal shooting. The report also questioned the police narrative about what led to the shooting. No charges were brought.
Upon the report’s release, the mayor in a statement claimed the report had “factual inaccuracies,” but has not cited any specifics. Madden did not mention the report in his speech, and afterward would not comment on its contents.
But the mayor said the city does agree with several of the report’s recommendations.
“There are many things in the report that are fair, that we agree with. The recommendations are not difficult recommendations, those are things that by-and-large we’ve been working on. It’s not as though they are new to us or something we would object to.”
A police objective review board has been defunct in Troy for the past few years, but the mayor said he would explore other options for such a committee to increase communication between the city and residents.
The mayor praised the police department and cooperation with state and federal law enforcement agencies by giving statistics, saying violent and property crime dropped by 21 percent over the past two years and that the number of illegal guns taken off the streets increased by 32 percent.
Though Republican City Council President Carmella Mantello has some disagreements with the mayor, said she was pleased with many of the items in the mayor’s speech, including the project to rehab the Seawall along the Hudson River.
“That’s a huge project. It’s one that the council has partnered with the mayor. So on several issues the mayor was dead on. On a couple issues, you know, I differ. Like I said, the finances, they are getting back on track but unfortunately on the backs of the taxpayers. So we have to change that, we have to partner. I would have like to have heard more partnerships with the county, shared services.”
Mantello, mother of a child with special needs, said she almost gave the mayor a standing ovation on his appointment of a city Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator.
Mantello will deliver her own address to the city council in March.
At the end of his speech, Madden credited the positive changes in the community over the last two years to its people.
“I am proud and humbled to be your mayor. It is my goal to make you proudly proclaim that Troy is your home. We are Troy, New York and are in this together. Thank you.”