Schenectady

Schenectady warns of $3M in cuts to police department – more than 30 officers – due to COVID-19 shortfall

Mayor Gary R. McCarthy gives his 2020 state of the city address in January.
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Mayor Gary R. McCarthy gives his 2020 state of the city address in January.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — City police are bracing for dozens of potential cuts as the financial fallout of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to ripple.

Mayor Gary McCarthy met with city Police Department administration on Thursday to brief them on possible staffing reductions.

“It could be right around the range of $3 million,” McCarthy said. “That translates into an excess of 30 uniformed officers.” 

Amid a freefall in revenue, McCarthy said the city is still trying to pinpoint the precise budget deficit.  

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Shortfalls could reach as high as $9 million — and that’s if state aid is held intact.

If not, McCarthy anticipates making an additional $2 million to $2.5 million in cuts to this year’s $112 million spending plan. 

The city is slated to receive $11.6 million in state aid this year.

“We’re evaluating what the impact is from the pandemic we’re in,” McCarthy said. “It’s happening so fast it’s hard to sometimes get a grasp of total impact and how long it’s going to last.”

PBA President Det. P.J. Mullen said as many as 40 of the department’s 160 uniformed officers could be laid off.

McCarthy, he said, painted a “bleak picture” of what would happen without state or federal assistance. 

Reductions would likely have public safety ramifications, he said.

“A cutback in manpower would severely prohibit us from providing that same service,” said Mullin, who said the department has strengthened its relationship with the community under Chief Eric Clifford’s leadership and hopes the public will push back against any cuts. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has blasted Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s suggestion that states should declare bankruptcy, and has long called for the federal government to include bailout for state and local governments in the next stimulus package.

“State and local governments fund police, firefighters, nurses, school teachers, food banks,” Cuomo said on Thursday. “That’s who I want to fund. That’s what it means to fund a state and local government, and that’s the choice that they’re making.”

McCarthy echoed those sentiments, and said federal assistance would help lessen the blow.  

“We’re hopefully going to get some assistance from Washington,” McCarthy said. “We’re cautiously optimistic there’ll be some shift.”

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