June 19, 2024

Administration organization and land purchase take forefront at Troy finance meeting – Troy Record

The Troy City Council from left to right: Ryan Brosnan, Bill Keal, Katie Spain McLaren, President Sue Steele, Majority Leader Thomas Casey, Irene Sorriento and Aaron Vera. (Erica Bouska – MediaNews Group)

TROY, N.Y. — The council’s got a rhythm, Troy City Council President Sue Steele said after the Finance Committee meeting and special meeting Thursday night.

With ordinances and resolutions ranging from approving bonds for a new fire engine to confirming mayoral appointments like Deputy Mayor Seamus Donnelly, a couple of issues held the committee’s–which consists of all the council members and the council president–attention, the reorganization of some of the administration’s departments and heads and; the sale of surplus property at 744 Pawling Ave.

Several people were confirmed at the special meeting with one drawing a few questions and concerns; Russ Reeves, the city engineer, taking on an additional role as superintendent of Public Utilities. Mayor Carmella Mantello said that the finite structure of the departments was inefficient and that a system where the departments more closely interact would be a better system overall.

“I promised the people of Troy that we were going to look at departments differently,” the mayor said. “People are going to just see more proactiveness and really see our departments be one big unit and work block by block.”

After being asked, Reeves said he felt comfortable taking on both positions and had previously overlapped with public utilities. His position at Public Utilities will be part-time which Steele raised concern about, calling it an “unusual arrangement.”

His nomination passed unanimously with one recusal from Council member Aaron Vera, a Democrat, due to their previous work relationship.

“It’s nothing against Russ Reeves per se, but it’s the mayor’s plan to take a piece of that salary and give it to him,” Steele said following the meeting. “The water treatment plant deserves a full-time person.”

Some of the moves make department and union lines unclear, she said, for example, the Troy Union President of the Civil Service Employees Association now also being the director of infrastructure. But Mantello said she has full trust in Reeves’ ability to do both positions and work with the Code Department.

The other changes also make more sense rather than less, she said, and they are trying to think more creatively about all the positions in the city.

“They’re so used to here’s a position, fill it, and then get that department to go do that job,” Mantello said. “No. Departments are going to help each other; they’re going to work together.”

The property sale also raised a few concerns on the council and in the public forum for a couple of reasons. A community member raised concerns about the new owner, David Mulinio, who has had past allegations that he did not fill out proper permits for other properties he has owned.

Council members raised questions and concerns about the use of the property. Currently, it is zoned and was used in the past for commercial uses, however, officials noted that Mulinio has expressed intentions to build it as apartments with storage facilities on the bottom floor.

The ability to do that lies on further separate approval from the council but representatives for Mulinio at the meeting said he and the other parties purchasing the properties are willing to take that risk without the guarantee that the properties will be rezoned or that the project will be approved.

Republican Majority Leader Tom Casey said he understands the concerns but will verify everything Mulinio is planning to do and thoroughly examine all the documentation he has dropped off.

“I’m gonna make sure, I’m sure the administration will too, that (with) the new owner that we keep an eye on everything that’s done there and make sure it’s filed to the letter of the law, he said. “We’re gonna make sure everything is done properly.”

Russ Reeves and Troy Mayor Carmella Mantello speak at the Eddy’s Lane Pump Station a few weeks ago. (Photo provided/File)

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