Council of Albany
Meeting Minutes, October
Albany Public Library
Start. 7:00 p.m.
Howard had a brief introduction and everyone introduced themselves.
Tom Nitido, City of Albany Comptroller
City Comptroller Nitido explained that he would discuss the Albany City Budget that was laid out that morning by Mayor Jennings. Tom led off by emphasizing that this was not his budget though he has distinct opinions about it.
He pointed out that he agrees with the Mayor that Albany is shorted regarding state aid relative to other upstate cities.
Nitido then offered a quick overview of the good/bad of the budget in his opinion.
Good (“not good for everyone, but good for the comptroller)
As a taxpayer, competing with other cities, reduces spending for
the first time he has ever seen, 4% collective bargaining agreement for police
and fire, spending is down a little less than a million dollars.
There are no one-shots, (non recurring revenues).
Reducing the number of city positions is important since
we have had a structure that we can’t afford.
Some progress on health care costs.
A property tax increase of 4.9 percent.
More in health care cuts are needed
Frozen salaries for non-union workers. There is no flexibility to
reward good workers
47 full time positions eliminated (open positions) equals out to a
$3 million dollar savings.
If they don’t fill vacant positions,
it is hard to achieve savings, as this requires aggressive management by
department heads and must assure that overtime costs don’t blow out numbers.
Must report overtime costs constantly
Capital Plan $19.9 million dollars, a high percentage is landfill related ($12 million). If expansion doesn't go forward, this creates problems. Having the residents pay directly for trash collection is not proposed as a part of this budget.
$8 million non-landfill improvements/repairs, $4.5 million is for road construction.
Budget director tends to be conservative with projections.
Revenue sharing is up, state aid is part of that so the number could be off. Mortgage tax has been a budget saver.
Budget will be on the City’s website within 48hrs
More details on budget revenues -- expenditures
Debt service is largely flat. Money from debt reserve have ket that number down.
Retirement is flat, the year after will be a concern.
Health insurance numbers are down, self insured helped. This year proposes 65 plus retirees moved to Medicaid managed care plan to keep costs down. The city is so far outside of what the private sector does that something needs to be done. There are a large number of retirees that are under 65.
Nitido then took questions from CANA members:
effects from financial crisis.
Public officials do not get salary increases, including mayor.
Fire and police contracts.
Reserve fund still has money. 2008 took out $8 million may be more
($12 million). This year’s budget
uses $1.6 million, which is a great improvement.
Buffalo’s increase in state aid is more than our state aid
Police and fire cuts will not have an effect on response time and
We have been spending more than we can afford
There will be two budget hearings.
Any other key areas to watch (salaries, sales tax, other areas
have had drops)
Fareed Michelen -- Outreach Director, Capital District Area Labor Federation
Mr. Michelen discussed that the Capital District Area Labor Federation
runs a “Building Bridges” program which is a pre-apprenticeship program.
They take low income individuals, train them and put them in union positions, “to get better taxpayers.” They have ongoing enrollment, and are working with the City of Albany. They are looking to help any people interested in getting in construction field.
The Federation negotiates a contract with building representatives to benefit business and communinty (“Community Benefit Agreements”)
Large coalitions are required to be successful. Some large projects will be coming into the area and they will be looking to work with CANA to be involved in them.
Fareed then took questions from CANA members.
III. Minutes approved.
Howard then discussed options for changing the meeting site and/or start time as the library now wants us out of the building by 8:45 instead of 9. It was agreed that we should continue to meet in the library, but move the meeting start time to 6:30 and adjourn at 8:30.
Dan Curtis informed everyone that on October 16th, the Pine Hills Neighborhood Association will be meeting to discuss traffic calming, everyone is welcome (7pm LaSalle School).
Neighborhood Works 9 -- NRC, Gene Solan
The conference will highlight successful neighborhood association initiatives, and they have received 10 nominations. City officials will be discussing a range of issues, including code enforcement, neighborhood policing and neighborhood planning initiatives.
Sewer Committee will be holding a meeting on October 8th at Montesorri school.
Joe Cunniff then discussed Councilman Colosaro’s proposition to ban alcohol at Alive at Five; it was unanimously opposed. Everyone agreed that the block party on North Pearl is the real problem. The city should not be putting themselves in a liability situation. CANA should address this at Common Council.
Meeting adjourned at 8:45 p.m.