Schenectady County

Schenectady council president wants public’s good ideas

City Council President Gary McCarthy doesn’t have all the answers. So he’s hoping you do.

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City Council President Gary McCarthy doesn’t have all the answers. So he’s hoping you do.

McCarthy is starting a new council committee to gather innovative ideas from the public on how to make city government more efficient. He’s hoping city workers and those who watch from the other side of the counter chime in with ideas.

The committee will review each idea seriously and embrace experimentation, McCarthy said.

Councilman Thomas Della Sala will chair the committee. He’s starting off with little structure.

“There’s no plan. Just, how do we make things better?” he said. “The hope is that we can generate ideas to either save money or increase revenue.”

The city needs to cut $13 million — or raise that amount through increased revenue — by the end of next year to avoid layoffs or a tax increase. McCarthy hopes to develop innovative reorganization plans and other money-savers early this year, so they can be incorporated in the 2011 budget.

“We hope it will lead to a lot of ideas, but getting one significant idea will make it all worthwhile,” he said.

Some residents have for many years told the council which city services are wasteful and could be changed. McCarthy said those ideas need a proper review.

“People always suggest things,” he said. “I wanted to develop a formal review process.”

City workers will also be encouraged to use their inside knowledge of their department to submit ideas for change.

“You want people to bring in different perspectives,” McCarthy said.

Della Sala expects the committee to be popular.

“I think it’s a really good idea because we didn’t have a forum for that,” he said.

For now, Della Sala is the only member of the committee. McCarthy will appoint two more members. He intends to appoint residents with relevant expertise.

For now, ideas should be sent to Della Sala’s mailbox at City Hall.

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