$10 to buy a burrito?

Schenectady parking fee plans stuck in neutral

Residents unhappy with increase; decision put off

Tuesday, October 15, 2013
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$10 to buy a burrito?

A city resident puts money into a parking meter on Jay Street in Schenectady in June of 2013. Rates could be going up, but for now the city council has delayed action.
A city resident puts money into a parking meter on Jay Street in Schenectady in June of 2013. Rates could be going up, but for now the city council has delayed action.

— Parking fees in downtown Schenectady are going back to the drawing board yet again.

City Council President Margaret King pulled the item from Monday’s agenda without a vote.

The council also held a public hearing on the proposed 2014 budget, which got a lukewarm response. Speakers were far more passionate about the new parking fees, and King said she had heard from many residents since the proposal was announced last week.

“We clearly have got a lot of input from people,” she said, adding that the council needed to “clarify” how the fees will change.

The resolution would have allowed the mayor to raise on-street parking rates to as much as $1.50 per hour and $10 per special event. Many streetside parking spaces are 25 cents an hour now, but some are $1.

But the special event fee might not last. Councilman Carl Erikson said it should not affect those trying to make a quick purchase at a store.

“You won’t pay $10 to buy a burrito,” he said.

He’s not sure how short-term parkers could avoid the flat fee. He said it might be better to instead only allow short-term parking during special events.

“We need to talk to restaurant and store owners,” he said.

The council will discuss it again Monday at 5:30 p.m.

Residents asked the council to scrap the whole idea.

Linda Kelleher said the city could not afford to buy the new parking stations, given the limits of the budget.

“Is the city so flush?” she asked rhetorically.

Kelleher’s husband Joseph, who is running for City Council, was not present for the budget public hearing.

Only one council candidate attended the hearing as a member of the public — Mary McClaine. She told the council to cut the new parking stations, fluoride in the city’s drinking water and health insurance for council members.

She also criticized Chief Michael Della Rocco for never mentioning his pending retirement when he asked the council to fund an assistant chief position last month.

Instead, last month he said the position was needed because the fire department was so short-handed that union members were handling administrative duties.

Given the real situation, McClaine said, the council should cut the assistant chief position.

“Renegotiate it after the fire chief retires,” she said.

She also criticized the police department for letting highly paid detectives work overtime for patrol officers.

Not giving overtime to the newest, least-paid officers “is tantamount to abuse of the taxpayers,” she said.

Chief Brian Kilcullen told the council during a budget review session that detectives working overtime patrols could be pushing up costs.

But he explained the process in more detail Tuesday. The department does not simply offer overtime to officers based on their placement on a list. Instead, officers volunteer in writing every day, and the list is used only if more people volunteer than are needed that day.

It is not clear why lower-paid patrol officers are not volunteering, but elected officials have speculated in the past that officers are told to “wait their turn” and allow senior officers to earn overtime shortly before retirement.

Resident Gerald Plante also questioned that detectives’ use of overtime, asking whether they were trying to increase their pensions.

“If it’s just to game the system, it should stop,” he said.

He and resident Sharon Schmidt spoke in favor of the $22,500 expense for a dog census, citing the need to crack down on loose and unvaccinated dogs.

Schmidt was also the only resident to ask the council to spend more money.

“The parks budget needs to be reconsidered so they do not fall into disrepair again,” she said, adding that many neighborhood groups have been maintaining the parks since the budget was cut several years ago.

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October 16, 2013
4:37 a.m.
reader1 says...

The notion that lower paid officers are "waiting their turn" so senior officers can obtain the overtime for pension purposes is wildly off the mark. There is no evidence that this is occurring or has occurred at the PD. It defies common sense - why would lower paid officers, many just starting their young families, forfeit the overtime for senior officers?

October 16, 2013
7:24 a.m.
gina99 says...

Better the Democratic parking fees should go in the garbage can. With Rudnick's closing, Bangkok Thai and Olender's closed {after 108 years before the so called "renaissance"} it's the last thing Downtown small businesses needs. Instead of an idiotic dog census hire more Animal Control officers. Don't expect any tax relief until Vince Riggi gets more support.

October 16, 2013
9:25 a.m.

Agreed. Where's other council members input. Did the reporter simply fail to cite their thoughts. Or, are these REAL issues so far above the three lady council members heads that they're afraid to opine. For once, its good that the intelligent council members get credit for showing deliberative due diligence.

October 16, 2013
3:22 p.m.
robbump says...

Agree with Councilman Carl Erikson about having a short-term parking with well enforced limits. The fee remains (up to) $1/hour but those planning on a show will have to park elsewhere. People can get into a place for a meal or especially for picking up food.
Just WHY should the city have to pay $100 per new meter's price changes? As a computer programmer, I find that odd. Imagine Price Chopper having to pay their POS vendor $100 for each price change. The manufacturers of the new meters are gouging with after-the-sale add-ons.

October 17, 2013
7:01 p.m.
artbarb says...

Maybe charging $10 to park will help reduce property taxes?

1406 Union St, Schenectady, NY 12308 For Sale: $99,900
1406 Union St Total Assessment: 2013 - $139,600

1431 Rugby Rd, Schenectady, NY 12308 For Sale: $69,000
1431 Rugby Rd Total Assessment: 2013 - $121,200

838 Bedford Rd, Schenectady, NY 12308 For Sale: $94,500
838 Bedford Rd Total Assessment: 2013 - $122,500

Don't you WONDER WHY these owners are selling?

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