While it wasn't on the Schenectady City Council agenda Monday evening, a close to $5 million deficit remaining from 2011 is on everyone's minds. Innae Park reports.
SCHENECTADY, N.Y. – It is hard to forget about the hole of almost $5 million that the City of Schenectady faces after the end of 2011. However, the city council is now looking for ways to get the Electric City back in the black.
Democrat and chair of the Government Operations committee Leesa Perazzo said, “It absolutely is on our radar to find ways that we can work more 'lean-ly.'”
As for what types of steps need to be taken, Perazzo said, “I don't want to look at cutting jobs, but there may be ways we can pull back a little bit. We've already removed some of our plowing funds from that budget line because we know next November, December, we're not going to need all that plowing budget.”
President Denise Brucker added, “We're looking more at growing and investing in the City of Schenectady to improve revenues.”
However, it was that goal that contributed to this financial gap. Mayor Gary McCarthy, who refused to speak on camera, has said much of the hole comes from no longer selling their tax liens, which is an effort to improve the city long-term. He says he expects the finances to balance out as time passes, but it will take at least the rest of the year.
Independent Vince Riggi, the only non-Democrat on the council, is not as optimistic.
“I’m not going to guess that things are going to get better or that they could get better. We've been hearing this for years,” Riggi said. “I say we deal with things the way they are right now and put our house in order the way it is right now.”
The city finance commissioner declined to comment.
In the meantime, some officials say this giant deficit, is actually part of a bigger problem.
Brucker said, “You know, the New York State legislature cut $715 million from state aid across the board. And for the past three years, that state aid has been made flat or reduced.”
Perazzo said, “It’s very important that we not panic. This is very common among small cities all across upstate and all across the United States.”
Council members say they hope to have a number of cost-saving measures proposed by the end of this month.
An audit of the city's finances will be released in just one week, which many hope means more solutions to come.