Updated 10/30/2012 11:00 PM
Schenectady City Council adopts budget
The Schenectady City Council has adopted its proposed budget and it comes with some changes. Innae Park has more.
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SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- Schenectady Police Chief Mark Chaires said, “You can cut and cut and cut, but at some point, cutting is going to damage the ability of the agency to function.”
There's better news and bitter news for the people of Schenectady in next year's budget. First, a property tax increase, but it won't be as high. The mayor proposed almost 4.2 percent. The city council approves 1.7.
“In that regard, it’s a success,” said Schenectady City Councilman Carl Erikson.
The ability to do this comes from two new accounts. The "Unfunded Tax Reduction" and "Unfunded Deficit" accounts will hold over $1.3 million. Those funds will be "reserve" for any department that is in a bind. But the city council will have to approve the transaction.
Erikson said, “You have the budget for the worst case. But instead of putting the worst case contingency funds in everybody's department budget, we're pulling those out and putting them in one single budget.”
The mayor's response?
“Again, after some discussion, we'll look and see the operational impact tomorrow,” said Mayor Gary McCarthy.
He wouldn't comment further. There was no indication that he would veto.
But the chief of police is concerned.
Chaires said, “I really think we should’ve been afforded an opportunity to cut [the funds for] the position in our budget.”
Instead, the council approved cutting two assistant police chief positions. The city has four. They won't be fired, but demoted.
The chief says without the years of seniority in a union, it could mean a huge drop.
“He might actually get reduced and not have enough seniority to get in the unit he just commanded. So he'll actually be outranked by the people because of civil service law,” Chaires said.
And Chaires says hindsight is 20/20.
“I wish I hadn't promoted them because I really did them a disservice by doing it,” Chaires said.
Another position that may have been cut was that of the city's public safety commissioner. It came up in discussion prior to Tuesday night’s meeting, but Erikson says the idea didn't have the support, so it was not included in his amended budget proposal. He says the decision was due in part to the recent ruling that allowed for municipalities to discipline law enforcement.