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Schenectady mayor: Pay up traffic tickets

Tuesday, October 2, 2012
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— If you haven’t paid your traffic tickets, now might be an excellent time to do so.

Mayor Gary McCarthy plans to dramatically increase enforcement of the tickets. He told the City Council that he plans to do more than withhold registrations or offer an amnesty program. He wants “aggressive” efforts — which could include booting cars.

The city is owed $2.3 million in traffic tickets, with the vast majority unpaid for more than five years.

“I told the police, it’s grossly inept that we’re not doing the follow-up,” he said.

He’s hoping to collect 10 percent of the fines next year, about $230,000.

But, he added, “The assumptions there are overly conservative.”

Councilwoman Marion Porterfield asked McCarthy to offer an amnesty program, giving residents a chance to avoid higher fines if they pay up immediately.

But McCarthy said the city’s last amnesty program was a bust.

“At this point I’m more skeptical of that,” he said.

Withholding registrations also doesn’t work, he added, because many scofflaws will register their car in their spouse’s or child’s name.

“We will have a presentation on some of the collection techniques we’re looking to implement,” he said.

Councilman Carl Erikson also questioned the mayor on his proposal to amortize the 2013 state pension payment. McCarthy suggested paying that over the course of years, along with interest.

Erikson didn’t seem happy. He questioned the mayor on the details, wanting to know whether the city would ask permission to pay over 10 years — the maximum allowed by the state.

McCarthy said he expected the city could pay off the bill in three to four years. He doesn’t yet know what the interest rate would be, but said the state offered a 3 percent interest rate to municipalities that wanted to amortize their 2012 payments.

The city last amortized its payment in 2004, during a desperate financial situation.

McCarthy also explained at length a plan that will cut costs in health insurance.

Even with the cuts, health insurance costs are still projected to go up $682,000.

But it could be $500,000 worse, McCarthy said.

He proposed hiring the CSEA Strategic Benefit Trust to manage the city’s insurance claims, which would cost half as much as having MVP manage the claims. MVP is the city’s insurance carrier.

With the trust, more employees could also buy their prescriptions from CanRx, a Canadian online drug pharmacy. Drugs there are about 40 percent cheaper than at American pharmacies, trust manager Laura Balogh said.

He also proposed self-insuring the MVP plan, so that the city would not have to pay tax on it. The tax is about 2 percent of the total insurance premium.

The city already self-insures another plan, but this would triple the number of employees in self-insurance. To reduce liability, the city already pays for stop-loss insurance, which covers all claims over $100,000.

Balogh said the city has a competitive bid for that insurance that is far cheaper than the current price.

In total, the city would go from paying $245 to $143 per employee for administrative and stop-loss costs.

Council members approved the plan in committee. The associated cost changes are already included in the proposed 2013 budget.

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October 2, 2012
7:10 a.m.
fjcjr ( FJ Colacino, Jr ) says...

Amortizing current pension costs is simply kicking the can down the road, which doesn't fix the problem, it only makes it worse later. Carl Erickson is the only person elected to City government that seems to have any intelligence. The Mayor has proved himself to be either inept or a liar - and a vindictive one at that!

October 2, 2012
7:45 a.m.
wmarincic ( Bill METRO FORD - Marincic ) says...

Al Jurczyinski call McCarthy mean, vicious and vindictive, who should know better than him.

October 2, 2012
8:53 a.m.
fjcjr ( FJ Colacino, Jr ) says...

During last year's election, McCarthy refused to signi n a timely manner the authorizations required for his potential opponents to collect petition signatures. To subvert the authority given to an elected official by the electorate to undermine the public's choice in an election is reprehensible. What else do you need to know about the mayor, and his ego?

October 2, 2012
9:42 a.m.
safny ( Sharon Flood ) says...

This is such typical nonsense. If all these people owe all this money in tickets - get out there and collect it. Why is it a topic for discussion?? boots are available - I've seen them. If the city needs the money (and it clearly does) JUST GO GET IT.

October 2, 2012
1:14 p.m.
SchenectadyScott ( Scott Riggi ) says...

Yeah...then we can get into the Used Car we are doing with all the abandoned houses....squeezing blood from a stone....They have to stop spending money we do not have and will never have..instead of crying that the State and Feds are not giving us our share..from our own pockets...The Mayor just follows his boss....Capo/Boss Gardener, his mouthpiece Gary Hughes...then we have three council members who are on the Government Mammary Gland..through Pension, Pay and Benefits..through there work be it subsidized or directly..Gary McCarthy, Denise Brucker, Peggy King, Marion Porterfield, and Leeza Perazo...They should all recuse is all in Their Best interest...not the people they serve...They refused to listen to The People, Fired Budget Analyst Jason Cuthbert and councilmen Riggi and Erickson.

October 2, 2012
1:16 p.m.
SchenectadyScott ( Scott Riggi ) says...

Wait till next year when we start paying on the Taj Mahal on Foster Avenue...The world's biggest Auto Body Shop.

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