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Schenectady mayor’s request for double-digit raise rankles some

Schenectady mayor’s request for double-digit raise rankles some

McCarthy asking for 16 percent boost
Schenectady mayor’s request for double-digit raise rankles some
Schenectady Mayor Gary R. McCarthy is pictured at City Hall in 2015.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SCHENECTADY — Mayor Gary McCarthy's request for a raise has struck a nerve with at least one City Council member.

“I’m not willing to agree to a dollar more than he’s getting now,” said Councilman Vince Riggi, who has long contended the city needs more “boots on the ground.” 

McCarthy currently draws an annual salary of $96,700.

His proposed 2020 budget asks City Council to approve a 16-percent salary increase, bumping his compensation up to $112,485. 

Riggi criticized McCarthy for not mentioning the request in his budget address to City Council members on Monday.

“It’s extraordinary, but that’s what happens when someone runs unopposed,” Riggi said, referring to McCarthy’s bid for a third term in November. 

McCarthy said City Code authorizes City Council to set his salary during the budget process, and it’s ultimately up to them to grant or deny the request. 

“The position hasn’t been adjusted in 12 years,” McCarthy said. “All I’m doing is bringing it to conform with what City Code has.”

On Riggi’s criticism: “If he didn’t like it, in the past eight years, he should have changed City Code.”

McCarthy said he’s taken steps to cull personal costs, but hasn’t received recognition for those efforts, including selling a vehicle utilized by former Mayor Brian Stratton when he took office in 2011, and donating his fees from performing weddings, which is under his purview.

“All I have done is adjust the salary in accordance to raises in the past,” McCarthy said.

Patricia Pytlovany attempted to force a permissive referendum when Stratton asked for a pay bump in 2005.

"It just didn't sit well with a lot of people -- not just me," Pytlovany said.

She and Riggi spent months circulating petitions with the hopes the issue could ultimately be decided by voters. 

"Even though the petition was thrown out in court, we garnered more than enough signatures to get the mayor's attention and he backed down," Pytlovany said.

She dismissed McCarthy’s comment that the office hasn’t been given a raise in 12 years as “nonsense."

"I would love to be able to give myself a pay raise,” she said.

Councilman John Polimeni acknowledged mayoral pay has been kept flat for years, which accounts for the request, but he also conceded it may be difficult for people to digest a “giant lump sum.”

"I'm sure it’s something we will debate and look at very closely,” Polimeni said.

McCarthy’s proposed salary isn’t wildly divergent from his contemporaries across the region: Albany’s mayor currently takes home a salary of $135,403, and Troy’s, $95,000.

All commissioners in Saratoga Springs, including the mayor, take home $14,500 annually for what are part-time positions, although the positions require the equivalent of a full-time job.

The Schenectady City Council has until Nov. 1 to adopt a 2020 spending plan. 

Salaries for City Council are set at a collective $98,700 and are split among seven council members, with each receiving $14,100 — including the council president. 

“We haven’t had a raise and we haven’t asked for one,” Riggi said.

A review of the city’s top 20 ranking officials reveals the majority are set to receive modest cost-of-living increase in the proposed budget, with both police and fire chief salaries remaining flat over this year’s levels. 

Among the biggest changes were in the city Law Department: The plan proposes reducing the number of salaried assistant corporation counsels from three to two (one is vacant) while reinstating the currently unoccupied deputy position.

Corporation Counsel Carl Falotico is running unopposed for City Court judge in November. 

Public Safety Commissioner Michael Eidens will earn $40,000 as part of his pared down responsibilities, which has him focusing solely on police discipline. 

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