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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Schecterady City Council Faces Criticism from Former Mayor Jurczynski Regarding 2024 Budget

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Sychenectady – The Schenectady City Council’s prolonged budget discussions culminated on Wednesday⁢ evening⁣ with the‌ passage of ‍a $109 million budget for ⁣2024, but not before a new, yet ⁤familiar, ‍Scharacter enteres the budget fracas – former Schenectady Mayor Al Jurczynski.rnrn While current Mayor Gary McCarthy said on Thursday that he is still⁤ weighing whether to support the council’s approved budget or to veto ​the plan, Jurczynski made clear on Wednesday that‌ his⁣ verfdict on the budget was a ⁣strong⁣ no.rnrn Jurczynski attended the council’s special budget meeting on Wednesday night merasing the budget​ process after

Schenectady‍ – The Schenectady City Council’s prolonged budget discussions culminated on Wednesday evening‌ with the passage of a $109 million budget for 2024, but not before a new, yet familiar, ‌character entered the budget fracas – former ‍Schenectady Mayor Al Jurczynski.

While current Mayor Gary ‌McCarthy said ‌on ‍Thursday that‌ he is still weighing whether to support the council’s ⁣approved budget or‌ to veto the plan, Jurczynski made clear ⁣on Wednesday that his verdict on the budget⁤ was a strong no.

Jurczynski attended the council’s ‍special ‌budget meeting on Wednesday night with the intention to speak out about the proposed budget, but the council followed standard practice and did not allow public comment before the budget vote.

The proposed budget passed ⁤by a tight 4-3 margin, with City Council ⁢President Marion Porterfield and Councilmembers John Mootooveren, Damonni Farley and Carl Williams voting yes, while Councilmembers Doreen ⁢Ditoro, Carmel Patrick and John Polimeni opposed ⁤the spending plan.

McCarthy⁤ said on Thursday that, after meeting with city department heads, he hopes to have ​a decision‌ on a potential veto in⁢ short order.

Following the ‍budget​ vote, Jurczynski headed toward the door of the council chambers to leave the‍ meeting, but McCarthy recognized the former ‌mayor’s presence before he ‌exited.

“Before Mr. Jurczynski leaves, I just want to‍ acknowledge my predecessor ‍here,” McCarthy said.

“Does it bring⁤ back old ⁤memories?” McCarthy asked Jurczynski, jokingly.

“I never saw a council ⁣this dysfunctional,” Jurczynski⁤ said to the ‌council. “For those that voted against this budget, God bless you. You can quote ‌whatever you want,⁣ but you should have had the budget passed three weeks ago.”

“That’s inappropriate, you wouldn’t want ​that done when ‍you were here, so I appreciate you respecting this process,” ‍Porterfield replied.

Jurczynski replied that he⁣ pays property taxes in the city​ and‌ lamented​ the fact that⁢ he didn’t get an opportunity to speak before the budget vote. Porterfield then called the council’s ‍Finance Committee meeting to ‌order and Jurczynski exited the council chambers.

Jurczynski said following the meeting that he wanted to⁢ speak out about the budget process after the council didn’t pass its plan until 19 ⁤days after‍ the city’s Nov. 1 deadline.

The ⁢former⁤ mayor said he was concerned that‍ the city is potentially facing a large budget ​deficit in 2025, with the 2024 budget utilizing $7.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. This was the city’s last opportunity to use ARPA funding in its ⁢budget.

“I’m down​ here because‌ I’m frustrated and I think I speak for ⁤the ⁢majority ⁣of ‌taxpayers and property owners in this city,” Jurczynski said. “What’s going to⁢ happen could be bankruptcy. If the city is forced to file ​for ⁣bankruptcy, then a [state] ⁤ financial review board will have to ‍be installed and the council will ⁢be ‌null and void as long as that financial board ⁤is in place.”

While McCarthy has expressed concern about how the late⁣ budget could affect the ‍city’s credit rating, ⁤the city was awarded‌ an ⁣”A” rating by‌ S&P Global Ratings ​in 2022 for a positive financial outlook.

Mootooveren, chair of the council’s Finance Committee, criticized Jurczynski following Wednesday’s meeting, noting that the former ​mayor presided ⁣over a property tax increase during⁢ his time in office.

“He [Jurczynski] knew the fact that⁣ he couldn’t speak at a special ⁣City Council meeting and he ⁣ [came] ‍ to be disruptive‌ as a former mayor,” Mootooveren said. ⁢”He⁢ should know better. It’s a sad reality that some ‍members of this [McCarthy] administration are inviting people to come and be disruptive at our⁢ meeting.”

McCarthy said on Thursday that he ⁤was ⁣unaware that Jurczynski would be attending the council meeting.

“His comments reflect ​a‌ level of frustration that I’m not sure the City Council fully understands how some ⁤people view their ​actions,” McCarthy said of Jurczynski’s​ remarks.

McCarthy, ‍who was re-elected to his fourth term⁣ as‌ mayor on Nov. 7, ran an unsuccessful campaign to unseat⁤ Jurczynski from the mayoral ⁢chair in 1999 and criticized Jurczynski during that campaign for sending the McCarthy-led ‍City Council ‌proposed budgets that ‌included tax increases.

Jurczynski – the last Republican politician to hold the office – served as the city’s mayor from 1996 to 2003.

Jurczynski ⁢earlier served for 12 years ​on the City Council before⁢ being elected to his first term in the mayor’s ​office.

“I ⁢love this city and ⁣I served the people⁣ of Schenectady for 20 years from 1984 to 2003,” he⁢ said on⁢ Wednesday. “I’m not⁣ coming down here ​to be a rabble-rouser. I’m coming down here because I’m concerned as a property taxpayer. What I’m seeing with the council is that there’s snide remarks and this budget is nothing but a farce.”

During the ⁣budget meeting, Porterfield and Polimeni sparred over council rules and Polimeni’s city residency when​ Polimeni launched into lengthy remarks explaining⁢ his budget vote before he announced his decision to vote no.

Porterfield argued that Polimeni’s remarks should have ​been contained in the discussion period held earlier in the meeting, while Polimeni replied that Porterfield was attempting to change council rules.

Porterfield⁣ then asked Schenectady ​Corporation⁢ Counsel Andrew⁢ Koldin to rule on the council’s ‌process, with⁣ Koldin⁣ noting that he was not the council’s parliamentarian and⁢ could not decide the matter.

Polimeni criticized⁣ the budget and‍ the ⁣council’s decision‌ to eliminate nine vacant city jobs from the budget, reading from campaign literature from Porterfield’s Democratic primary mayoral campaign against ⁣McCarthy​ that argued that the‍ city needed to staff unfilled positions.

“All ⁢of that commentary ⁤comes from someone who has moved ‍out of the city and is⁣ now a taxpayer ⁣in another city,” ⁤Porterfield said‌ at⁤ the end of Polimeni’s ⁢remarks.

“I’m a‍ legal resident, get your‍ facts straight,” ⁢Polimeni replied.

According to county property tax ‌records, Polimeni owns homes ‍in both ⁣Schenectady and the town of Rotterdam, with the council member purchasing a house ⁤on Gates Drive in⁣ Rotterdam in February.

Polimeni has maintained that his main residence continues⁢ to be his Guilderland Avenue home in Schenectady.

Polimeni did not run for re-election in November and ⁤will be replaced by newly elected Councilmember Joseph Mancini in January.

Mootooveren contended ⁤after Wednesday’s meeting that the council has not brought‌ a vote to remove Polimeni from the council because Mootooveren claims the city​ Democratic Party and McCarthy have⁤ enabled Polimeni to ‍remain ‍on the board for the remainder of his⁣ term.

“I don’t control the City Council, and ‌that’s a ‌complete and gross distortion,” McCarthy said on Thursday. “We’ve had this happen a couple of times with council members and ⁣I believe that Mr. Polimeni does meet the technical definition of a resident.”

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Kiara Thomas
Kiara Thomas
I uncover quirky and compelling stories. Always on the lookout for the 'why' behind the 'what'.
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2 COMMENTS

  1. Agree. Patel here, former Mayor Jurczynski definitely has a point. The 2024 budget shows a lack of consideration for important community needs. City council should reevaluate their priorities.

  2. Disagree. The 2024 budget clearly caters to the needs of the Schecterady City’s future. Former mayor Jurczynski might just be focusing on a singular aspect.

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