State weighs in

City Coun­cil must ap­prove trash and bulk refuse fees to sup­port garbage fund

Albany Times Union - Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - By Ken­neth C. Crowe II Troy

N.Y. ap­proves of Troy bud­get but says city should find al­ter­na­tives to bor­row­ing.

The state Comptroller’s Of­fice found in its annual re­view of the city’s bud­get that Mayor Pa­trick Mad­den’s $73.5 mil­lion spend­ing plan was rea­son­able but that the city should find new ways to pay for buy­ing new equip­ment in­stead of bor­row­ing.

“Based on the re­sults of our re­view, we found the sig­nif­i­cant rev­enue and ex­pen­di­ture pro­jec­tions in the pro­posed bud­get are rea­son­able. In ad­di­tion, the City’s pro­posed real prop­erty tax levy com­plies with its tax levy limit,” state au­di­tors found.

The state warned that the City Coun­cil must ap­prove the trash and bulk refuse fees to sup­port the new garbage fund. It also said the city should not rely on bor­row­ing to pay for new ve­hi­cles.

The city must sub­mit the bud­get to the state for re­view as part of the terms for the cre­ation of the Troy Mu­nic­i­pal As­sis­tance Corp. to res­cue the city from its fi­nan­cial mess in the 1990s. The city has about $24.6 mil­lion in out­stand­ing MAC debt which will be paid off in 2022.

Mad­den, in a state­ment, said the eval­u­a­tion con­firms the work of his ad­min­is­tra­tion to use strong fi­nan­cial over­sight and “fact-based bud­get­ing prac­tices” to ben­e­fit the city’s res­i­dents, or­ga­ni­za­tions and busi­nesses.

“The 2019 bud­get pro­posal — our third con­sec­u­tive year of bal­anced bud­gets — im­ple­ments sev­eral ini­tia­tives to man­age costs, en­hance ca­pac­ity in key de­part­ments, and pre­serve es­sen­tial ser­vices for our res­i­dents,” Mad­den, a Demo­crat, said.

The bud­get that the City Coun­cil is now re­view­ing would raise the trash fee by $4, bring­ing it to $164 per unit.

The prop­erty tax would in­crease by 1.4 per­cent. The pro­posed tax rate for 2019 is $14.15 per $1,000 of as­sessed val­u­a­tion. A prop­erty as­sessed at $150,000 would have a city tax bill of $2,122.

Mad­den en­cour­aged the coun­cil to adopt his pro­posed 2019 bud­get and it is sched­uled to meet on Nov. 29 to de­cide on the plan.

Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Carmella Man­tello, a Repub­li­can, said she had is­sues with as­pects of the pro­posed bud­get.

“As I’ve stated on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions, my con­cern for the over $4 mil­lion garbage fund, that is per­ma­nently be­ing pro­posed for Troy tax­pay­ers, is that it is no more than a hid­den tax be­ing used to cir­cum­vent the tax cap. Troy tax­pay­ers have seen the bud­get since 2016 in­crease by at least $11 mil­lion or a 16.5 per­cent in­crease,” Man­tello said.

“I will con­tinue to advocate for ways to run our city govern­ment in a more cost-ef­fec­tive man­ner in­stead of con­tin­u­ing to put an un­due bur­den on Troy tax­pay­ers,” said Man­tello, who wants to see more shared ser­vices with Rens­se­laer County and other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, a pub­lic safety fee on higher ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions and ma­jor non­prof­its, LED light­ing, re­lo­ca­tion of city hall and less use of le­gal con­sul­tants.

John Carl d’an­ni­bale / times union

trash cans out­side a house on east Sun­ny­side Aug. 7 in troy. the trash fee will rise $4 in the mayor’s pro­posed 2019 bud­get to a to­tal of $164 per unit.

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