SCHENECTADY --Only four people showed up to the public forum at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Wednesday regarding Mayor Gary McCarthy’s $86.8 million proposed budget for 2019.
There were two people who were actually residents of the city, while the other two were from Rotterdam, though they said they owned property in the city's Mont Pleasant neighborhood.
The meeting lasted approximately a half hour, with Councilman John Polimeni, chairman of the City Council Finance Committee, opening the meeting by going through a similar budget presentation to what McCarthy did on Monday.
After that, residents were able to ask questions about the budget.
This included a question from George Sykala, one of the Rotterdam residents, who asked what would happen if the city didn’t get the revenue from the budget.
McCarthy said taxes would go up.
During his budget presentation on Monday, McCarthy noted that the city expects to see an increase in revenue from Rivers Casino & Resort. He said the city expects to see an increase of $285,839, which brings the projected amount of revenue from approximately $2.28 million in 2018 to $2.56 million in 2019.
Another question came from Ray Faught, president of the Bellevue Preservation Association, who said the city and its police department have been in the news because of reported lawsuits.
“Is there anything that can be done with reducing that?” Faught asked. “Maybe making officers responsible for their actions rather than the city having to pay?”
McCarthy responded saying the overall quality of service from the department, along with its level of professionalism, had improved. He added it has led to overall crime in the city to trend downward.
He also praised Public Safety Commissioner Michael Eidens, who was hired in October. Eidens supervises the Police, Fire and Buildings departments. He also has disciplinary powers over those departments, thanks to a state Court of Appeals ruling last October.
“When there is a problem, we are holding officers accountable and are doing so in a quick and efficient manner,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy unveiled his proposed budget on Monday. It includes a 0.53 percent tax cut and avoids layoffs without having to raise any fees.
The tax levy is also proposed to be at $30.75 million, which is $30,000 less than what it was in the 2018 budget. The tax rate for 2019 is proposed to be $13.08 per $1,000 assessed value.
The next two public meetings will be 7 p.m. Thursday in the Steinmetz Park Multi-purpose Room on Lenox Road; and 5:30 p.m. Friday at The Bridge Christian Church on Crane Street.
A public hearing on the budget will be held during the City Council meeting on Oct. 9 at 7 p.m.
There will also be budget hearings on Oct. 10, 11, 16 and 17 in City Hall from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.
The city must approve its budget on or before Nov. 1.