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Albany passes $180M budget 11-4

December 01, 2016 12:10 AM

ALBANY – By an 11-4 vote, the Common Council approved next year's spending plan Wednesday night. But there was plenty of controversy and debate over the trash fee and other amendments to Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s $180M budget.

Before the vote, some city workers gathered to serenade the Council and send a message to Sheehan that they are still without a contract in the water department.

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"We are the backbone of the city but where is our appreciation?” Jolene McElroy-Moore asked rhetorically during her address to the council. She is a single-mother of two and a meter reader for the past six years.

"As God is my witness, I thought we were going to see change,” said Jose Vega, a department worker for 16 years.

Then there were debates over the controversial trash fee. Finance Chair Judy Doesschate (Ward 9) called it an obligation under the code to adopt the fee. But Ron Bailey (Ward 3) called it based on phantom numbers and he, Frank Commisso Jr. (Ward 15), Mark Robinson (Ward 5) and Judd Krasher (Ward 11) voting “no” on the overall budget.

"Every single time the four of us, any one of us mention a criticism, a valid criticism or an alternative, it's smacked down by the Mayor or her allies saying it's political and we shouldn't consider it and it's not actionable,” Krasher said. “All of that's nonsense."

Council President Carolyn McLaughlin voted yes but says it's not done yet.

"And we have to live with this because I'm going to tell you this is not as painful as everyone will suffer if we don't get that $12.5 million and I really do want to see people as passionate about that as they were about the other issues that they talked about tonight,” she said.

Before the meeting, a city official told NewsChannel 13 that the $12.5 million hole would come from the state.

On Twitter and Facebook, Mayor Sheehan wrote: “I am pleased that the Common Council has voted overwhelmingly to approve a 2017 budget.

“This budget reduces spending by 2%, the largest decrease in more than 15 years. It holds the line on property tax rates, contains no new fees or fines, and maintains city services. Importantly, it continues our efforts toward building a more sustainable city government.”

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