Schenectady County

No Schenectady budget yet, as meeting looms

After a flurry of weekend calls, the Schenectady City Council still doesn’t have a budget done.

After a flurry of weekend calls, the Schenectady City Council still doesn’t have a budget done — but city officials are trying to pull it together by 5:30 p.m.

With 90 minutes left, budget committee chairman and Councilman Thomas Della Sala said the council may have no choice but to hike taxes.

“I want to keep it under 5 [percent]. I’m not sure if we can,” he said.

But he said the council won’t lay off 19 firefighters, forcing long response times and the closure of one firehouse.

“I’m pretty sure we can keep the firehouse,” he said. “There may still be some firefighter layoffs.”

Council members were waiting for Fire Chief Robert Farstad to tell them how many firefighters are needed to staff one firehouse at bare-bones levels.

The council is also set to approve a $20 increase to the garbage fee, Della Sala said. That would restore many parks maintenance positions. The entire maintenance crew was slated to be laid off next year.

Three of the city’s four pools were also left out of the mayor’s proposed budget — and they may not be added to the final budget. The council may search for sponsors to open the Front Street, Quackenbush and Hillhurst pools.

“It doesn’t have to be done now,” Della Sala said. The pools don’t open until the end of June.

Della Sala did not call any council meetings this weekend, but did poll the council members repeatedly on various funding ideas.

“It’s been phone calls all day long,” he said. “I’m worn out.”

He and council President Gary McCarthy also met with the finance director on Saturday, and McCarthy met with her again Monday afternoon to try to hammer out a final document before the council’s meeting tonight at City Hall.

The council must adopt a budget tonight.

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