December 12, 2016 11:38 PM
TROY – With the change of a vote by Mark McGrath, the City Council’s President Pro Tempore, the city has a budget. It came after McGrath saw snow on the ground and perhaps picketers outside the Hedley Building. City Hall is housed on the fifth floor.
"You have to understand the city has to operate,” McGrath told NewsChannel 13 after Monday night’s meeting where he agreed to be the sixth vote to override the tax cap of .68%. And then he voted for Mayor Patrick Madden’s new budget of 14.5%, well down from the 28.2% first proposed. “You saw the snow come out today, think about this in another month if there's no plows out."
The Republican said that as a member of the council’s budget steering committee, he kept the 28.2% from happening and might have been persuaded on Thanksgiving weekend with the first-term Mayor, a Democrat.
“This was a one-way negotiation, we got it to 16.7(%) and the Mayor just stopped it and said I'm not going below 23.4” percent, McGrath said.
"But make no mistake, this budget erodes our ability to provide the services our taxpayers want,” said Madden after the council voted 6-3. “It increases our financial risks and it continues to kick the can down the road…We have elevated the dialogue around the limitations of the city's finances."
Madden had threatened that there could be more than 90 layoffs and now the number is down to eight in five departments, but he declined to list specifics.
"I don't think you'll see any layoffs,” McGrath said. “I think what will happen is through attrition I think they'll be able to keep all the jobs. It might have been a little playmenship (sic) on (Madden’s) part."
Madden said he didn’t know that the CSEA Union would be picketing outside the Hedley Building prior to the meeting.
"The 14.5 we all know can come down lower,” said Council President Carmella Mantello who along with Kim Ashe-McPherson and Jim Gulli voted no to both override the tax cap and then the budget. “We know that. We know it's a negotiating tool but the 14.5 is still excessive in my mind."
Said Councilman Robert Doherty (D): "I didn't do this with light heart or without a very thorough effort to find a better solution."
McGrath: "This was almost like a gift because by March or so if things haven't changed and I start to see things going in the same way they're going then when it comes to budget time next year they'll get nothing."
OPERATIONAL IMPACTS RESULTING FROM BUDGET REDUCTIONS (from Mayor’s Office)
-Elimination of Emergency Response Team (est. savings $80,000)
-Reduction in Community Policing Initiatives
-Elimination of School Resources Officer positions after contract period
-Elimination of temporary staff in Dept. of Traffic
-Reduction of seasonal staff in Parks and Recreation
-Elimination of seasonal staff in Dept. of Streets
-Community Events eliminated: Parade support, Event support, Concerts, Neighborhood programming, Youth sports support, Neighborhood Improvement Grants
-City Summer Recreation programming eliminated
-Marina not operational – seasonal staff eliminated from budget
-Municipal Pools will be closed – seasonal staff eliminated from budget
"I give Mayor Madden credit for really trying to tackle the problems head on so we continue to monitor deliberations there,” said NYS Comptroller Tom Dinapoli, who says his office is still watching.
Madden: "To take it further than we have would be a serious reduction in services and a serious reduction in staffing.
"We'll work with the non-profits that do youth programming, summer programs, day camps. We'll make sure that kids are aware of those opportunities but without resources there's not services that we can offer them."
McGrath: "It was a long, bitter process, there were some harsh words. But at the end of the day you have to be fair."
Mantello: “We did our job.”
Updated: December 12, 2016 11:38 PM
Created: December 12, 2016 07:15 PM
Copyright 2016 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company