Updated 09/11/2012 07:02 AM
More debate over Schenectady's finances
More financial concerns for the city of Schenectady as an agreement with how much of the county's sales tax revenue they will receive becomes a hotly debated issue. It even brought Monday night's meeting to a halt as the council ended up holding a closed executive session to discuss the facts. YNN's Innae Park reports.
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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- A contentious issue: whether to accept an eight-year-long agreement with the county on the splitting of sales tax revenue. Under it, the city would be guaranteed at least $11.7 million each year, with other funds to come in.
The agreement passed four to two, in spite of much concern from the public and the council members against.
“This deal isn't good enough for Schenectady. It just isn't,” said Council Member Carl Erikson, the chair of the finance committee.
Among the outcriers was Jason Cuthbert, a city budget analyst. He brought some graphs to the council, arguing the revenue to the county had grown exponentially over the past 14 years to reach $60 million , but the city has received the same share of around $11 million throughout that time.
“To vote for the sales tax deal in front of you, is to vote for higher city taxes, for reducing and eliminating city services, for laying off city employees, and likely in a few years time, for a fiscal control board to take over the city,” said Cuthbert.
But those for this agreement say it's a fair deal.
City councilwoman Leesa Perazzo said, “This agreement bolsters the stability of our credit rating which is, in these fiscal times, essential.”
Schenectady County Legislature Majority Leader Gary Hughes came out to the meeting to voice his opinion. “It would be very easy for me to stand here tonight and say take more time, do something different, there must be more money out there. But in reality, there isn't, and this is the best agreement we're going to get.”
Mayor Gary McCarthy said, “Some people have done what I would call a really simplistic analysis and believe they're taking an overly optimistic scenario in some cases, and it just doesn't apply.”
The tax agreement goes to the county legislature next for approval. It is expected to pass.
The agreement would begin December 1st, as the current four-year plan expires November 30th.
Another potential wound to the budget: layoffs. The City Council voted on whether to eliminate seven positions from the 2012 budget. Among them, the Director of Recreation Services and a command staff role with the police department.
The cut salaries would have totaled over $426,000. However, the council did not pass the resolution, with a tie vote, three to three.