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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Schenectady City Council to Vote on Mayor’s Budget Veto Override on Thursday

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Schenectady ‌Mayor Vetoes ‍2024 Budget

SCHENECTADY — A week after ⁣Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy vetoed the‍ City Council’s 2024 budget, the council will hold a veto-override vote during a special budget meeting Thursday night. City Council President Marion Porterfield said there has‍ been progress in the‍ ongoing budget negotiations.

The city is facing a looming Dec. 31⁤ deadline to pass a 2024 budget in order to avoid a ⁣potential city ​government shutdown.

During a ‍Finance Committee meeting on Monday evening, Porterfield said a Friday budget conversation with McCarthy had proven “productive.”

“We⁢ discussed how we could move the budget forward and what it would take to ‍get that to⁢ happen,” she said. “I made some suggestions⁢ which he was open to and it was a pretty productive conversation.”

The City‌ Council passed a $109 million budget on‍ Nov. 20, nearly three weeks⁢ after the city’s Nov. 1 budget deadline, which McCarthy subsequently vetoed⁤ on Nov. 29.

The council will hold a veto-override vote⁤ during its special meeting on Thursday at 5:30 p.m., needing a five-vote supermajority to overturn the ⁣mayor’s veto.

The City Council⁤ passed its 2024 budget by a 4-3 margin, with Porterfield and councilmembers⁣ John Mootooveren, Damonni Farley and Carl Williams voting yes, and Councilmembers ‍Doreen Ditoro, Carmel Patrick and John Polimeni opposing the plan.

McCarthy said he expects his veto ‌to stand.

“My inclination at this point is that the council will probably sustain the veto and⁢ then I look forward to negotiating a budget that’s acceptable to everyone,” he said.

Porterfield said on Monday that‍ she had put forth a proposal to the mayor that would utilize another approximately $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to balance the city’s waste department budget.

The 2024 budget will be the city’s last opportunity ⁢to utilize ARPA ‌funding, with the city already using $7.4 million in‌ loss revenue ARPA funds in the approved spending plan.

In October, Councilman ‍John Mootooveren, who chairs the Finance‌ Committee, proposed to utilize​ $2.5 million in additional ⁢ARPA funding to balance the city’s sewer fund. At⁤ a subsequent meeting, McCarthy informed the board that — under federal ARPA guidelines — it could not‌ use ‍the $2.5 million‌ for⁢ tax reductions.

The city reached out to the federal Department ⁢of the Treasury for clarification on ⁤whether an additional $1 million in ARPA⁢ funding could be applied to ​the ‍city’s waste⁣ department budget.

“I’m⁣ expecting that’s going to work⁣ out,”⁤ Porterfield said following Monday’s meeting. “I’ve spent a lot of time looking at it and what ARPA covers. I anticipate that we should be successful in that.”

McCarthy, however, said on Tuesday that he does not believe Porterfield’s proposal‌ to expend more ARPA funds will ‌be viable under federal rules.

“She was referencing our waste collection,” McCarthy said.​ “We have not⁣ had a significant⁣ increase in ‌the actual waste collection. Our numbers are up slightly, but they’re minor‍ percentage points. Our overall costs are up for disposal and collection. I told‍ her that I​ didn’t believe that qualified. There’s an incorrect premise ‌that there’s an increase that would⁣ fit the definition.”

The total waste collection budget in McCarthy’s original‌ $111 million spending plan is $1.3 million, up from the $1.1 million in the approved 2023 budget.

McCarthy’s‌ original proposal included a proposed waste collection fee increase of $1.50 ‌per week for city residents, ‍with ‍the council eliminating the proposed fee increase and reducing the mayor’s proposed trash charges by $1.7 million.

The council’s ⁤approved budget does include increases‍ in commercial waste fees, however.

McCarthy contended on ⁣Tuesday that the‌ council should fill the $1 million ‌shortfall in the waste budget⁤ by ⁢adopting his proposed fee increase.

“Those line items in the budget, we ‍had staff go over and they’re calculated and justified,” ⁣he said. ⁢“In this random adding and deleting and subtracting, it goes away from the ‍fundamental quality ⁢of the budget. In ‍waste collection, if you use ARPA ⁤money for it, it’s a one-time shot where some reduction in ‌our costs or reducing service‌ will just⁤ amplify ​the ⁢problem that we’re going to have to deal with next year or down ‍the road.”

McCarthy is out of City Hall this week on vacation and‌ was not in attendance at Monday’s meeting.

Porterfield said on‌ Monday that the ARPA proposal is the only proposed budget change currently on‌ the table.

“That’s the only aspect that ⁣we’re looking⁣ at, because that was one of the things that we really needed to settle so that we’re not⁤ using reserve [funds] and also maintain our ⁤credit⁢ rating,” she said.

Councilwoman Carmel Patrick said following Monday’s meeting that she ⁢would wait​ and see if the city is permitted to utilize additional ARPA funding before weighing in ‍on ⁣the proposal.

“I’m really​ hoping that we are obviously able ⁢to do something ‌before the end of the ‌month, because I am concerned about what would happen if we’re not able to come to some sort of negotiated agreement, then what happens on Jan. 1st?” she‌ asked.

The council’s Thursday meeting will commence with the resumption of Monday’s Finance Committee meeting, to be followed by ⁣the special budget‍ meeting and the veto override vote, which Porterfield noted the council was required by city code ‍to take up at its next full meeting.

“I would have liked to have had it done today [Monday],” Porterfield said of a⁢ budget deal. “But, when ⁢you’re at the mercy of someone else ⁤supplying information, it may take a‍ little longer. As soon ​as possible. We really have to ⁢look ⁢at the fact that tax bills need to go out soon, so we’re trying​ to get it done very quickly to meet that⁤ deadline.”

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Juniper Li
Juniper Li
Juniper Li, with her roots in documentary filmmaking, brings a unique narrative style to local news reporting. A graduate of NYU’s Journalism program, Ava has a keen eye for stories that capture the essence of community life. Her reporting often highlights local achievements and challenges, drawing on her experience in visual storytelling.
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3 COMMENTS

  1. Agree Good punctuation and grammar. The city council should vote to override the mayor’s budget veto in order to ensure progress and prevent any delays in essential services.

  2. Good punctuation and grammar. Disagree. The mayor’s budget veto represents the voice of the people who elected him and should be respected by the city council.

  3. Good punctuation and grammar. Disagree. Overriding the mayor’s budget veto undermines the democratic process and disregards the will of the people who elected him.

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