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What you need to know for 01/19/2018

Schenectady’s finances scare off lender

Schenectady’s finances scare off lender

The city failed a routine credit check for a loan to buy 10 police vehicles, Finance Commissioner De

Schenectady’s finances apparently are so bad that even banks are taking notice.

The city failed a routine credit check for a loan to buy 10 police vehicles, Finance Commissioner Deborah DeGenova told the City Council Tuesday.

The bank didn’t like some of the information that came up in the credit check, she said. She declined to offer specifics.

“The credit check didn’t go the way the underlying bank expected it to go,” she said.

One of her first tasks as the new finance commissioner was to find another bank to issue the loan. She said she’s now found a bank that will take riskier loans, though it wants to run its own credit check first.

“This bank has room in their portfolio,” she said. But it comes with a cost. If the bank agrees to issue the loan, it will charge the city more interest. But DeGenova said the city could still afford the loan.

The council agreed in committee to let the bank run a credit check in hopes of getting the loan.

The 10 vehicles — eight patrol cars and two vans for the evidence technicians — were a serious point of contention among council members last year. Several council members objected to the cost and gas mileage of the vans, as well as the fact that the evidence techs drove them home every night.

After rejecting the expense mid-year, the council held another vote and approved the expense at the very end of last year.

In other business, Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico — who was promoted from assistant corporation counsel — offered a new rental certificate plan.

His new proposal offers landlords a choice: a big annual payment that covers all inspections, or a pay-as-you-go plan for those who expect to need only a few inspections.

Currently, a city law requires landlords to get apartment units inspected every time a tenant moves out. Landlords have generally refused to follow the law.

Falotico proposed sending out inspectors to review large apartment buildings once a year, regardless of when tenants moved. That option would come with a flat fee of $250, plus $20 for every unit after the first five. The option would only be offered to landlords with more than five apartments on a property.

Any landlord could instead choose to continue to pay for inspections whenever tenants leave.

Some landlords had objected to the flat fee, saying it was much more than they spend on inspections now. But they had also objected to the current inspection requirement, saying it was too expensive, took too much time and led to unnecessary improvements that went far beyond health and safety repairs.

The proposal also includes a change that landlords have been seeking: permission to make small repairs to their plumbing and electrical systems without calling a licensed worker.

Homeowners are allowed to do such work without a license, if they get a city permit. If the proposal passes, landlords will be able to do the same work on their rental properties.

The council plans to hold a public hearing on March 11 at 7 p.m.

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