A deal the city accepted to help out a developer has backfired, leaving the city holding a $39,500 bill.
In a typical year, that might be a minor problem. But now, the financially strapped city only has enough money to pay half of the bill.
The City Council met with the mayor in a Schenectady Urban Renewal Agency meeting to discuss the bill, which is nearly double the amount of money in SURA’s bank account.
SURA has just $20,000. But it owes $39,500 to a company that demolished the former Luigi’s Restaurant this summer on Barrett Street.
The problem started last year, when developer Anthony D’Adamo said he would build condos at the site after he had demolished the deteriorating restaurant and a building next door. The city owned the buildings, and if D’Adamo bought them, he’d have to immediately start paying property taxes while funding the construction project.
D’Adamo instead signed a contract with the city, promising to do the work by a certain date before taking title. City officials agreed to keep title to the buildings until then so D’Adamo wouldn’t have to pay the taxes.
The titles were held by SURA, which keeps buildings off the city and school district tax rolls.
D’Adamo said he would demolish the buildings by November 2011. But the buildings were still standing nine months later when a fire broke out, destroying Luigi’s.
City officials said D’Adamo was responsible for demolishing the burned-out structure. But there was a dispute, and city officials ended up hiring a company to do the work.
They directed D’Adamo to pay for it. City officials said he refused because he had hired his own company, which might have done the work for less money. D’Adamo couldn’t be reached for comment.
As both sides argued, the demolition company waited. Payment is now four months late.
After some discussion behind closed doors to discuss the legalities in the case, SURA agreed to pay the company $19,500 — nearly every cent in the agency’s bank account.
SURA staff member Steven Strichman said the city will keep pressuring D’Adamo to pay the full bill.
“We do have control of the property. If he wants to get it back … ” Strichman said. “I was trying to make the contractor happy while we go through this argument.”
But he said SURA shouldn’t have to pay anything. “We shouldn’t. It’s his responsibility to be paying it,” he said.
In other business, the City Council agreed in committee to pass a resolution regarding transgender rights.
The full council will vote Nov. 13 on whether to urge the state to add transgender to the list of groups that must be protected from discrimination.
The state already prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, creed, race, color, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, disability, military status, domestic violence victim status, criminal or arrest record, or predisposing genetic characteristics.
Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo asked the council to consider the benefits of adding transgender to that list. The change can only be made at the state level, but the city can ask the state to take action.
One of Perazzo’s stepchildren is transgender, she said.
“So this issue is very close to my heart,” she added.
She argued that the law won’t hurt businesses.
“It’s extremely well-thought-out,” she said, citing rules about restrooms and other matters. “It still supports any professional dress code in the workplace. It certainly doesn’t require any employer to have to hire someone because they’re transgender.”
New York Civil Liberties Union Director Melanie Trimble told the council that transgendered individuals are “routinely” fired or denied a job by employers simply because they are clearly expressing a gender that was not assigned to them at birth. “Many New Yorkers face brutal and pervasive discrimination,” she said.