Schenectady voters will be asked to decide more than just a slate of leaders on Tuesday. They will also vote on a proposition placed on the ballot by the City Council.
The proposal would close a loophole that Mayor Brian U. Stratton exploited when he authorized former Fire Chief Robert Farstad $117,000 to pad his pension last year. Council members tried to block the move when they learned about it from the media, but Stratton argued that he had the authority to offer benefits and other contractual items to employees.
Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden said the city’s charter was unclear — the authority appeared to be granted to both the council and the mayor.
A yes vote to the referendum would give the council sole authority to write and change employment contracts.
A no vote would leave unclear passages in the charter.
As for the issue that started the referendum, Stratton eventually backed down after council members asked the state to stop him from increasing Farstad’s pension.
The Democrats want the proposal to pass.
Alliance Party mayoral candidate Roger Hull has campaigned against it.
He said the mayor should have contractual authority.
“You have supposedly a strong mayor form of government. Let the person do the job,” Hull said. “If you want to look at the charter, look at the entire charter, don’t look at it piecemeal.”
He also argued that it would create an unfair situation if the proposal passes but Hull defeats the Democrats and becomes mayor.
Hull is running against Acting Mayor Gary McCarthy, who is also council president.
McCarthy has argued that the proposal does not limit the mayor in any way. The next mayor will still be able to hire anyone — but the council will decide how much that person gets paid.
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Categories: Schenectady County