Schenectady City Council members are optimistic heading into budget negotiations that city property owners will benefit from a tax cut deeper than the one the mayor proposed Friday.
Mayor Gary McCarthy shared his proposed 2017 budget for the city and in it noted that residents can expect a property tax cut of 3.26 percent. However, council President Leesa Perazzo and councilman Vince Riggi both said they believe that cut will end up closer to 5 percent when all is said and done.
“I thought the mayor’s presentation was well thought out,” Perazzo said. “But I have also said and committed publicly to at least a 5 percent reduction, and I have some ideas I’d like to bring to the table.”
To increase the tax cut from 3.26 percent to 5 percent would require about $450,000 in spending to be cut from the mayor’s proposed budget, Perazzo said.
“I think with the influx of the casino licensing revenue, and the mortgage tax and proposed host fee, that is absolutely attainable,” she said.
She noted that the council is at the beginning of its budget process and doesn’t need to adopt the 2017 budget until Nov. 1. The council will spend several meetings going through the proposal line by line to find areas that could be adjusted, she said.
A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 11 at City Hall for residents to provide feedback on the budget. Perazzo said council members still will be in the review process at that point, and will be hearing from department leaders in the next couple weeks.
Riggi, the only non-Democrat on the council, said he believes the tax cut will ultimately come in somewhere around 5 percent. He said he was disappointed that the mayor’s proposal came in with just a 3.26 percent reduction because McCarthy had stated on a few occasions that residents could see as much as a 10 percent cut.
The 2017 proposed budget includes $2.75 million of revenue associated with the new Rivers Casino & Resort, which is scheduled to open at Mohawk Harbor in early 2017. The budget also includes $1.2 million from the sale of city-owned housing and property.
However, the 2017 proposed budget increases revenue only about $800,000 over the adopted 2016 budget.
“It is what it is,” Riggi said of the mayor’s proposed budget. “I’m going to guess the final [tax cut] will be closer to 5 percent. I think we really have to crunch these numbers and see.”
The mayor’s entire proposed budget can be viewed at www.cityofschenectady.com/DocumentCenter/View/1321.
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels at 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27 on Twitter.