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Schenectady council OKs budget with slight tax cut

Schenectady council OKs budget with slight tax cut

The Schenectady City Council adopted the 2016 budget with a 0.5 percent tax decrease.

The Schenectady City Council adopted the 2016 budget with a 0.5 percent tax decrease.

The seven-member council, during a short special meeting on Friday, slightly altered Mayor Gary McCarthy’s proposed 2016 budget that kept the tax rate flat compared to the 2015 budget.

The half-percent tax decrease came from Councilwoman Leesa Perazzo’s recommendation to factor in an additional $154,500 in property sales, bringing total property sales in 2015 to $1,104,500.

The property sales will be coming from a recently announced development project called “Live In Schenectady.” A group of 15 investors are committing $1.5 million to build 10 homes, and later another 15 homes, on Seminary Place and Barrett Street.

As part of the project, the investors plan to purchase 19 properties — 15 vacant lots and four buildings — from the city for a total of $200,000. The sale has yet to be approved by the City Council, which is expected by the end of the year.

Also, the council agreed to double crossing guards’ stipends from $150 to $300. The total amount available in stipends per crossing guard would then be $600, since they are offered twice a year.

Councilman Vince Riggi abstained from voting on the budget because his wife, Donna, is a crossing guard. He said he is in favor of the budget and would have voted yes. All of the other council members voted yes.

The final budget includes $81.81 million in spending and a drop in the tax levy to $31.38 million.

Under the budget, Police Department funding will increase next year by $571,055 to a total of $18.6 million. The budget will add four new officers and one new detective.

Overtime for the Police Department will increase slightly compared to the 2015 budget from $1,175,000 to $1,500,000.

The Fire Department’s funding will have an increase of $132,558 to a total of $10.5 million. The Fire Department’s budget includes $22,000 for training for the department’s boat patrol.

The budget approval comes a couple of days before election on Tuesday with McCarthy, a Democrat, facing a challenge by Roger Hull, a former Union College president.

There are four open seats on the City Council. Council members Leesa Perazzo and Ed Kosiur, both Democrats, are seeking re-election as well as Vince Riggi, the only non-Democrat on the council.

Newcomers in the City Council race include Democrats John Polimeni and Karen Zalewski-Wildzunas. Also, Tom Verret, a Conservative, and Michael Cuevas and Ann Rigley, both Republicans.

Reach Gazette reporter Haley Viccaro at 395-3114, [email protected] or @HRViccaro on Twitter.

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