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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations

November 3, 2004

  Albany Public Library

 

  1. Introductions

                       

  1. Minutes

            Minutes of the October 2004 meeting were approved.

           

  1. Guest  Speakers:   Thomas Nitido, City of Albany Comptroller and

James Sano, Common Council Majority Leader & Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee

 

The Proposed Capital Budget for 2005

 

The proposed City budget for 2005 is $136.7 million.  There will be a 4.5% property tax increase and no new, nonrecurring revenue is anticipated.  The City has invested $100,000 on resources to increase fines for parking, traffic, etc.  $3 million is expected to be collected. 

 

Existing Debt:

 

The City’s existing debt is $145.2 million and includes

            Bonds                                                 $129.1 million

            Short term debt                                 $5.9 million

            Revenue anticipation notes $10.2 million

 

Debt Service:

 

Debt service will be 10.3% of the total budget.  Payments will be just over $14 million.  Interest payments will be about $4 million for $15 million principal.

 

Bonding:

 

The City will bond in excess of $25.7 million

            Firefighter’s pension             $6.4 million

            Pension expense                              $3.6 million

            Proposed budget                              $14.2 million

            Authorized 2003                                $1.5 million

            Other                                                   Undetermined

 

The City’s bond rating is very good for a municipality in our area.  Efforts are being made to shorten the length of new bonding obligations.

 

$6.4 million for the firefighter’s pension is for a union negotiated expense and is non-recurring.

 

Personnel Costs:

 

Contractual salary and benefit payments will increase by 5%.  Salaries are presently more in line with national averages; therefore, the cost to employees for some of their benefits may increase. 

 

Collective bargaining makes it difficult for the city to make substantial changes for salaries and benefits. However, cost-saving options for non-unionized employees are being considered.

 

Personnel and overtime costs account for a large percentage of the City’s budget.  Overtime expenses for 2003 were almost $6 million and in 2005 will outstrip any savings that might be found by not filling vacant positions.  The Common Council is requiring closer projections for personnel and particularly for overtime.

 

Health care costs are projected to be $20 million—up from $9 million in 1998.

 

Employee health insurance and medical expenses are projected to be about $11 million.  For retirees they are expected to be $9 million.  Both have more than doubled in the lat 5 years.  Retirees pay close to nothing for their health insurance, and firefighters don’t pay premiums after 10 years of service.  Health insurance for employees who retired during the last 10-12 years is being reviewed and will eventually be adjusted and hopefully, the city will experience about $2.8 million savings.

 

Retirement Costs:

 

Retirement costs for 2005 are projected to be $9 million for the City’s 900 retirees.  Of that amount the cost for non-police and firefighters will be $3 million, while costs for retired police and fire personnel will be $6 million.  The City does, in fact, periodically check to be certain retirees remain eligible for the benefits they receive.

 

Capital Projects:

 

The process for selection of streets to be improved is an antiquated and somewhat random process.  The Common Council is authorized to approve or disapprove bonding for streets and roads and votes and considers requests for bonding in March and April.  Capital projects can be vetoed individually by the Common Council. The City expects to repave Hackett and Henry Johnson Boulevards without bonding.

 

The cost of Albany ’s endangered buildings in crisis frequently requires emergency authorizing for bonding for repair or destruction.  The City makes all attempts to secure reimbursement for those expenses from building owners.  Strict code enforcement is considered the best tool for prevention and remedy.  Unfortunately, the resources for enforcement are limited and these cases frequently end up in the courts.  The Department of Law is undergoing personnel changes, and as a result code enforcement cases are delayed.

 

Expansion of the Rapp Road landfill is being considered.  The Coeymans site will not open until 2012.

 

  1. New Business

 

·        The recent and sudden death of long-time CANA member and South End Neighborhood activist Elfreida Textores was sadly noted.  CANA will make a contribution her in memory to whichever charity her family names.  CANA members are encouraged to do likewise.  Members were asked to carry on her crusade to note code violations and vacant building s and pursue Albany ’s public servants to have them rectified and fine the violators.  Members are also encouraged to challenge the City’s employees to be proactive rather than reactive and enforce the City’s policy of fines. 

   

·        A motion was made to extend the terms of the Executive Committee to two years.  The motion was unanimously adopted.  Executive officers are empowered to make emergency decisions without a forum of CANA members at a regular, monthly meeting.  The change will be effective January 1, 2005 .

 

·        The 2005 committee to nominate officers for 2005 will consist of Gene Solan, Harold Rubin and Collin McKnight.

 

·        The chairman will email members information about a lead safety course to be held on January 25, 2005 .

 

  1. Committee Reports

 

·        Budget Committee

The committee is reviewing the budget and deciding on comments they wish to make on behalf of CANA .  Comments will be presented to Helen Desfosses by Howie Stoller.

 

·        Harriman Campus

Members attended a meeting on October 14 where information about the development of the master plan was discussed.    Among the comments made by Mayor Jennings   were that he wants the revitalized campus to be revenue producing and  neighborhood-friendly.  He would also like to have housing in the downtown area.  The neighborhood associations may have little input except to advise the mayor.  Of particular interest is the elimination of the ring roads and the campus’ integration into the cityscape.

 

·        University and Community Relations

The next meeting of the committee on University and Community Relations will be at 7:00 PM on Wednesday November 10 at the Albany Police Department at 526 Central Avenue .  Copies of the agenda were distributed.  John Murphy, Director or Judicial Affairs at U-Albany will speak about “The Current State of Student Conduct at Albany and Changes in the Conduct Code.  The Tavern Owners Advertisement Agreement will be updated.

 

·        Neighborhoods Work Conference

The fifth annual Neighborhoods Work conference will be held from 8:00 AM to 12:15 PM on Saturday, November 20, 2004 , at the First Lutheran Church Hall, 646 State Street , Albany . The conference is free and open to the public.  The two topics to be presented are “Is an Effective Code Enforcement Program an Asset to a Community?” and “Zoning, what is it?”  The City has not designated a representative participant as yet.

 

The meeting adjourned at 8:55 PM .

 

 

                                                                                                Submitted by

                                                                                                Deanna Colfels

 

 

 


 

CANA

Meeting Attendees

November 3, 2004

 

 

NAME

ASSOCIATION

ADDRESS

Holly Katz

Mansion

HarrisKatz@mac.com)

Colin McKnight

Mansion

colinnalbany@yahoo.com

Daniel W. VanRiper

Lincoln Park NA

dwvr@atecone.net

Patricia Maxon

UPANA

maxdanys@aol.com

John Cirrin

Library

cirrin@uhls.lib.ny.us

Gene Solan

Pine Hills

126 So. Allen St

Tom Gebhardt

University at Albany

1400 Washington Ave

Bill Cleveland

West End

wmcleve@yahoo.com

Richard Conti

Common Council

RC6thward@aol.com

Mac Mowbray

Hudson Park

400 Hamilton Street

Julie Elison

New Scotland Woodlawn NA

Jelson510@earthlink.net

Marggie Skinner

Pine Hllls

marggies@earthlink.net

Howard Stoller

CANA

Hstoller@aol.com

Cynthia Galivan

Manning Boulevard

Cgaliva1@nycaprr.com

Harold Rubin

Center Square

156 Chestnut Street