Public Hearing Held on Troy's Proposed 2017 Budget
Some emotional testimony went on for more than two hours Thursday as Troy residents got to weigh in on the mayor's proposed 2017 budget, which includes a 28 percent property tax increase.
Potential amendments to bring that hike down, suggested by Council President Carmella Mantello and three others, were shared with the public on Wednesday night.
"I know there are cuts to be made. I know there is no money, but eliminating the filled positions is a very small drop in a very big bucket," said Meghan Stallmer LeBarge.
LeBarge has worked with the Troy Police Department as a community service liaison for 12 years. Her job is one of many that could be on the line, if the four Troy city councilors have their way in avoiding the 28 percent property tax hike.
"I am requesting that you and the council not sacrifice my job to fix a financial problem from previous administrations that I had nothing to do with," said LeBarge.
The council members found a way to bring the proposed property tax in crease down to just 9.5 percent, but not only would LeBarge be out of a job, so would community service officer David Buckley.
"If you go through with this, for me it will be overnight that I don't have a job. I don't know how I'll explain that to my two children," said Buckley.
Their amendments to the mayor's budget also call for not filling vacant positions within the fire and police departments, something longtime resident Sonia Loomis is adamantly against.
"Over time, you will be undercutting everything that I and my neighborhood group have worked so hard to put together," said Loomis.
She joins a small minority of people who say they would much rather swallow a 28 percent increase than do without invaluable services in the Collar City.
"When people say 'I can't pay it and I'm going to have to sell,' people need to understand this is a short-term, five-year increase," said Annie Borthwick. "We're going to be paying off a huge debt that we should have been paying off for the past 25 years."
A majority of the 30 people who signed up to share their thoughts on the proposed budget and amendments suggested by the council refuse to take on the burden of what they call mismanagement of finances over decades.
Mayor Patrick Madden has already made amendments of his own, and could possibly make more before a scheduled vote November 29.