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Schenectady Democrats meet behind closed doors to discuss budget veto

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Albany/HV: Schenectady Democrats meet behind closed doors to discuss budget veto
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Schenectady's Mayor meets behind closed doors with City Council Democrats to talk about his veto of the 2013 budget. Innae Park caught up with them afterward and reports.

SCHENECTADY, N.Y. -- “All of it will happen in public, which is the way it should be,” said Schenectady City Council member Leesa Perazzo.

However, the first discussion about the Mayor's veto of the budget wasn't public. In a Democratic caucus, Schenectady City Council members met with Mayor Gary McCarthy in a meeting closed to anyone except Democratic leaders. It was also held at City Hall, which was closed for Veterans Day.

“I find it ironic they hold a meeting like this on the observation of Veterans Day, veterans that gave their lives for democracy. This isn't democracy!” exclaimed Independent councilman Vince Riggi. Riggi said he knew nothing of the meeting until YNN spoke to him.

“It’s a slap in the face to the people I represent,” he said. “They're not silencing Vince Riggi, councilman, they're silencing the people.”

The Mayor vetoed the council’s amended budget on Friday. The council’s budget would have raised property taxes by 1.7 percent. The Mayor’s original proposed budget had the hike at 4.18 percent. However, the council also eliminated an additional assistant police chief position, making a total of two cut.

The Mayor called a caucus on Friday, according to Perazzo, but it was cancelled since finance committee chair Carl Erikson was unable to attend. Monday night’s meeting was the rescheduling of that Friday caucus. However, YNN was told by one Democratic council member that she was not notified of Friday’s gathering.

At this point, even after the closed discussion, Democrats say there's not much new on the table.

Council President Denise Brucker said, “Apparently there's some new projections, different projections that we weren't aware of.”

Perazzo agreed. “We just talked about cash flow and things that we may need to look at with a little bit of a closer eye.”

The reason for the lack of advancement: the numbers to back the Mayor's veto weren't presented at the Democratic caucus.

Erikson, said, “We haven't seen these actual numbers to say where we need to make adjustments, so I'm still feeling pretty strong about our budget, the budget the council amended.”

As for whether or not the second assistant police chief cut could be a negotiable item, Perazzo said it was not discussed during the Monday night meeting.

The entire council will see those figures from the Mayor at their regularly scheduled caucus prior to the city council meeting. They are not sure if they will take a vote on whether to override the Mayor's veto. The override would require five votes.

The Mayor has not been willing to comment on the budget veto or the Democratic caucus. The council and public will have to wait until Tuesday to learn more.

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