Troy’s mayor and city council president remain at odds over the Collar City's budget shortfall.
Troy will likely begin 2018 with a $2.9 million budget shortfall. Troy's charter says the city council has to pass a budget by December 1st, which has come and gone. The city council rejected Mayor Patrick Madden's proposed $160 trash fee. The $78.6 million spending plan hangs in limbo. But new hope has sprung and Madden, a first-term Democrat, says he is an "eternal optimist." "It should be the will of the council to move forward. They have a will to move forward, and I think that oughta be honored."
The Times Union reports there’s a "standoff" between Madden and his political adversary, Republican Council President Carmella Mantello, who was recently reelected. Mantello says the council and the mayor have worked out budget differences in the past. "There's no standoff. Yesterday the mayor sent the city clerk information calling for a special meeting next Thursday. The mayor under the charter has the ability and the authority to call a special meeting. However, how the legislature goes to its committee, the mayor does not have that authority. The mayor also tried to call a meeting tonight for a finance meeting. The mayor doesn't call a finance meeting. That's the legislature's job."
Mantello says a meeting Thursday night would not have required a two-third council vote. Under the charter, seven days must separate the Finance Committee meeting and the City Council meeting. Citing the charter, she called for a finance meeting early Christmas week. "Unfortunately the mayor tried usurping his powers and tried to dictate what the legislative branch was to do. He can call a special meeting, but I called a finance meeting for Tuesday and apparently the mayor has five votes for a garbage fee, which I quite frankly, the week before the holidays and Channukah and Christmas and New Years' with a lame duck council, more than half of the council members aren't going to be here next year, think it's not transparent."
A frustrated Madden says that for years, mayors have called for special meetings. As for the lame duck council: "That's patently absurd. That would suggest that if you lose and election or you choose not to run again, than you don't get to vote after that point? Uh, I mean these people are elected to serve through the end of the year. This is a bi-partisan group that has come forward with a solution. To suggest that because they're not coming back next year they don't get to fulfill this year is just an absurd interpretation."
Although Mantello kept the citywide office as president, the incoming council will be majority Democratic.
All said and done, Mantello believes Troy city government is healthy and working for the people. "What this council has done over the last two years, we've held the mayor, the administration accountable. We've implemented some very, very good programs. We're working very hard to revitalize our neighborhoods. But this council has really held the mayor's feet to the fire, and that's the job of the council. There was a picture that WAMC had, a cartoon picture, a caricature of where Mayor Madden and I and fighting over the dollar bill. That's government working."
Madden says the new year looks bright for Troy. "We're moving forward with a greener approach to solid waste management, we're very excited about that. About 25 percent of our electric utilization municipal utilization is now green, it's solar generated. We're looking to increase that number to between 50 and 60 percent in 2018. So we've got some exciting and very positive things that we're looking at in 2018 that will improve the quality of life here, bring down expenses with respect to solid waste and utilities..."
As for resolving the budget, Tuesday awaits.