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Wednesday, April 24, 2024

McCarthy signs Schenectady council’s third budget, ending budget saga

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SCHENECTADY ⁣— The third ⁢time’s‍ the charm for the Schenectady budget, as the City Council passed a $109 ⁢million 2024 spending plan on Thursday that ⁣Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy immediately‌ signed, ending the city’s three-month budget saga.

After vetoing the council’s first ​two budgets this fall, McCarthy said on Thursday that he would sign the council’s third spending plan, concluding the budget process 10 days before the city faced ⁤an uncertain ‍fiscal future if no budget was⁣ in place by Dec. 31.

“Sometimes, good things take a little bit longer,” McCarthy said of the extended budget process.

Divided Opinions on the ‌Budget

The budget vote ‍followed the ‌trend of the council’s first two approved budgets, with the board voting 4-3 ⁤to approve the proposed budget, with City Council President​ Marion Porterfield and ​Councilmembers John‌ Mootooveren, ⁣Damonni Farley and Carl Williams voting yes on the plan and Councilmembers Doreen Ditoro, Carmel Patrick and John Polimeni opposing the budget.

McCarthy said during the council’s Monday meeting ​that he hoped the council would ‍support the budget with a unanimous 7-0 vote, ‍but the council remained ​divided on the final product.

“I would have appreciated everybody‌ coming together and voting for it, but we have a ⁢budget and I’m looking forward to getting the tax bills out and moving forward,” he said after Thursday’s meeting.

Impact on ⁣Residents

McCarthy ⁤said that the tax collection period would be ‍extended from⁤ mid-January until the end ⁣of January, since the bills have yet to be dispatched due to⁢ the tardy budget.

The final budget adopts 100% of ‍McCarthy’s proposed water and sewer fees for city residents, with homeowners set to see a $74.20 per year increase in sewer fees and a $16.26 annual ‍boost in water fees.

The council also agreed to adopt ‌50% ⁣of the mayor’s ‍proposed waste⁣ fee increase, with a ⁢75-cent-per-week increase to be imposed in 2024.

Challenges⁣ and Compromises

The⁢ first ‍two budgets previously passed ​by the council halved McCarthy’s proposed⁤ water and⁣ sewer fee increases and excised his waste fee increase, with the council and reaching a compromise deal on Monday evening following a tumultuous​ meeting that saw the mayor‍ threaten to sue the council over its failure to‍ pass a budget by the city’s Nov.‌ 1 deadline.

The city charter does not detail the consequences of‍ missing the Nov. 1 deadline or ⁣the next ⁤steps if the ​city did not have a budget in place​ by‌ the end of the year, with McCarthy raising the possibility of legal ​action on Monday in order⁢ to⁣ have⁢ his ​original $111 million budget proposal enacted.

The council and mayor subsequently returned to the bargaining⁤ table to hammer out ⁢a third council budget, with the officials also agreeing on the need for a future⁤ amendment to the charter in order to provide⁢ clarity on the ramifications ​of the council⁤ missing the budget deadline.

Final Thoughts

“I ‍wish we could have done it a little sooner, but I’m grateful that ‍we ⁣all worked together and got it done,”‍ Farley said of the⁣ budget passage.

The final budget includes ‍a pay raise for council members, with​ their‌ annual‍ stipends increasing from $14,100 per year to​ $16,356.

With the city facing a Dec. 31​ deadline to‍ fund city operations and no clear rules ⁤in place delineating ⁣what would occur if‍ there was no budget in place by⁣ the new year, the council and mayor reached a tentative budget agreement on Monday that was sealed on Thursday night.

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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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