$79 million

Schenectady council OKs budget compromise

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Text Size: A | A

$79 million

Schenectady City Hall
Schenectady City Hall

— Schenectady has a budget for 2014, even if the spending plan they adopted Wednesday doesn’t exactly thrill members of City Council.

Councilman Vince Riggi — the lone non-Democrat — didn’t get the reduction he sought in a health care line item. Councilwomen Leesa Perazzo and Denise Brucker didn’t get a deputy fire chief’s position restored after it was cut from Mayor Gary McCarthy’s original proposal.

But when it came down to the tally, four of the six council members at City Hall on Wednesday were placated enough by the spending plan to vote for it. Perazzo and Brucker both voted against the budget.

“Clearly, this isn’t exactly what anybody wanted, but rather an average of what all parties think is right for the city,” said Carl Erikson, the Finance Committee chairman. “There was plenty of compromise.”

The $79 million budget includes a 0.96 percent tax increase — down from 2.2 percent in the original budget proposal. A homeowner with a house assessed at $100,000 will see his tax bill increase by about $15, while sewer, water and trash fees will increase a total of $34.50.

Perazzo said the budget does “a disservice to our taxpayers” by cutting out the deputy fire chief’s position, one of six at the department. She said retaining the position would add only $8 annually to the tax bill of a $100,000 home.

Perazzo said the number of fires in the city coupled with the city’s large stock of aging wood structures makes the position a necessity. For the money saved, she said, the cut seems completely unwarranted.

“For eight dollars a year, we’re going to debate this?” she asked. “That’s ridiculous.”

Brucker echoed this criticism before casting her vote. She said the council should listen to the department’s leadership when they say the position is critical.

“When they speak to us and tell us they need this position, I have to defer to their experience,” she said.

The council agreed to revisit the staffing levels at the Fire Department in less than six months, with Councilwoman Marion Porterfield suggesting they take another look in three months. Council President Margaret King agreed with this notion and shared concerns about the cuts.

“Right now, the city needs a budget, and I think that this is the best we can do,” she said.

Fire Chief Michael Della Rocco and Michael Angelozzi, president of the department’s union, declined comment after the vote. Erikson said the budget, as passed, is simply a “starting point” for the city’s target goals and changes could be made further down the road.

“We adjust course as we travel,” he said.

McCarthy was content with the budget adopted by the council, calling it a “workable document.” He stressed the city wouldn’t have such tough budget years if there wasn’t such a high percentage of property owners who don’t pay their tax bills.

For instance, McCarthy said the 2013 budget factored in 15 percent of all property owners not paying their taxes. Next year’s budget reduces this figure to 13 percent, not enough to offer budget relief.

“It’s all tied to the distressed properties,” he said.

Share story: print print email email facebook facebook reddit reddit


October 31, 2013
7:30 a.m.
gina99 says...

Perazzo & Brucker want even bigger tax increases? With 1,000 active City tax foreclosures. No wonder Schenectady is the laughingstock of Upstate New York. Had enough-YET?

October 31, 2013
9:12 a.m.
tonijean613 says...

I really like Leesa Perazzo- she is smart, and has brought much needed creative thinking and energy to the Council- BUT- she needs to understand that in an Impoverished community like Schdy- the "$8.00 increases in taxes ADD up" and yes- every line item needs serious debate to justify it. Vince Riggi has been spot on to his approach and the Council needs follow his lead more. I was glad to see they will pursue reducing the cost of trash removal by increasing recycling- its one important line item. But curtailing high salaries, and abusive overtime which is directly related to padding already high pensions is the biggest item to chop away at.

October 31, 2013
3:39 p.m.

Toni, you reference someone who is not really smart. if she were, she'd show more finesse, and make less noise. She knew she was out voted. Her comments were disingenuous and self serving. It is impossible to prove a negative.

Log-in to post a comment.

columnists & blogs

Log into

Forgot Password?