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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations    Minutes for November 3, 1999

1. Introductions - Roll call. In the absence of both Marggie and Sandra, Howie Stoller began the meeting with introductions and turned things over to Carm Basile and Dennis Fitzgerald from CDTA. They described the service improvement package CDTA plans to implement on Nov. 15. They will make significant changes to service in the Route 5 Albany-Schenectady Corridor, in the South End and Arbor Hill, from Crossgates to Downtown Albany, from Downtown Albany to Rensselaer, from Albany to Troy, from Albany to Cohoes as well as in Troy, Schenectady and the Suburbs. Get schedules and route information by calling 482-8822 or TDD 482-9024, or checking the CDTA website- www.cdta.org.
2. Minutes - approved.
3. Communications and Announcements:
The City of Albany is soliciting Nominations for 1999 Human Rights Awards: deadline 11/19/99
Library: Grand reopening scheduled for Dec. 1- check newspapers for details.
Christmas in April, Capital Region: volunteers will repair homes for low income, elderly and/or disabled homeowners in the South End and Capital Hill neighborhoods of Albany and the Town of New Scotland on Saturday, April 29, 2000. Call Pam Hallenbeck at 465-5251 to nominate a homeowner who would qualify for this assistance (deadline 11/24/99), or to volunteer.
City needs volunteers to work with the Red Cross in case of disasters. Call Kathy Hill, 434-5411 to register for training: deadline 11/19/99.

4. Committee Reports
Community Police Council - Minutes of meeting were circulated.
Community University Relations -
Agenda was distributed for Nov. 17 meeting- main topic- update on new NYS “unlimited drinks special” law and the committee’s Tavernowner Advertisement Agreement.
Flyers and packets were handed out so that we could see what was distributed to students re Halloween and turning back the clocks.
5. Speakers: Shawn Morris: Chair, Common Council Finance Committee
Nancy Burton, Albany Comptroller
Phil Calderone, Deputy Mayor, City of Albany
Chris Hearley, Budget Director, City of Albany
Carol Wallace, Carolyn McLaughlin, Sarah Curry-Cobb, Jimmy Scalzo, Dan Herring, members of Common Council Finance Committee.
Jack Nielson, Chief of Police
Jim Larson, Fire Chief
    Joe Fahd, Deputy Fire Chief
Finance Committee Chair, Shawn Morris described the activity to date regarding the City’s budget for the year 2000. On October 1, the mayor presented a $102 million budget that included an 8 1/2% property tax increase. At the press conference the mayor recommended some changes to his budget that would eliminate the need for the tax increase. The Common Council held public hearings in October and Council Committees met with the departments under their purview and discussed the departments’ budgets. The Common Council will have its final public hearing on the budget on November 15 at the beginning of its regular meeting.
Deputy Mayor Phil Calderone described the mayor’s suggestions for changes in the Fire Dept., Police Dept., and General Services that would eliminate the tax increase. He also indicated that the administration was looking for additional suggestions from the citizens and the council. Phil introduced the Police Chief, the Fire Chief and Deputy Fire Chief who were here to answer questions about the impact of these changes in their departments’ budgets. They would eliminate the tax cut by increasing revenues- charging insurance companies for the cost of paramedic service, rescues and removal of hazardous properties- and by eliminating a few positions in the police and fire departments. The police positions are currently vacant- they will not be filled. They may have to lay off 5 firefighters.
Budget Director Chris Hearley said that the City had cut expenses to the bone. Further cuts would mean layoffs and reducing services. Efforts have been made to focus on revenues. NYS will send a payment at the end of the year instead of early in the new year. That, coupled with an additional $1 million in state aid will help balance the budget. Revenues from sales taxes will increase by more than $2 million. The landfill is the most volatile source of income and is currently very profitable. The City has proposed an expansion that will add 10 to 15 years of life to the current landfill and will bring in $800 thousand a month from April through December, 2000. Counting on these revenues and using almost all of the remaining $8.4 million fund balance the City can avoid a property tax increase
    Comptroller Nancy Burton distributed three handouts: one compared projected Y2K revenues with actual and budgeted revenues from previous years; one provided the same information for expenses and the third was a 10 page critique of the Y2K budget itself. In this critique, Nancy described the City’s current fiscal condition, the fiscal condition of the Authorities whose finances are entwined with the City’s, (Albany Local Development Corp., the Parking Authority and the Water Dept. and Authority), some of the changes in revenues and expenses indicated by the proposed budget and some suggestions for changing the budget and for addressing the City’s long range need to find new sources of revenue and to control costs. She recommended bill audits to control utility and phone costs. The City should explore deregulation opportunities and energy conservation in city buildings for additional savings. Better management of overtime, purchasing, vehicle maintenance and health insurance could also reduce expenses. Collection of parking ticket revenues, reimbursements for services provided and more creative investment of cash balances might increase overall revenues.
Q: Has the City considered creating a task force to find new revenues? e.g. issue tickets in neighborhoods surrounding Pepsi Arena on event nights?
A: Budget is an ongoing year round process- always open to suggestions. In fact there is a RFP out now for a utility audit.
Q: What happened to golf fees?
A: Raised the rates usage was down- very hot summer, bad for golf.
Q: Which is the real budget?
A: Council: bound copy- with 8.5% tax increase.
A: Calderone: no tax increase budget- with recommended changes.
Q: How will the landfill bring in additional $5 million ?
A: By better disposal of trash and using space no longer needed for other things- vehicle storage,... will add 10 to 15 years of life to the landfill at its present location.
Q: Can the CDBG budget cover City costs?
A: There are no plans to invade the CDBG budget to pay for normal city operating expenses.
Q: How will police provide coverage? How will Fire Dept. continue code enforcement activity? Is it true that there are only 3 people now doing code enforcement.
A: Code enforcement is no problem. Dept. completed 30 month program of inspecting all units in the City. Now it has base information on every unit, it can respond to requests for inspections. Mayor has proposed to cut 9 positions, only 2 are vacant. They are working with the union to figure out how to do this. If there are problems with inspection requests- call the Chief 447-7879. Inspectors do go to the property and must find the owner. Some court cases have been delayed a year or more.
Comment: Some citizens would prefer to pay a bit more in taxes and not have services cut.
Q: Re tax base- when does value of new property get added to rolls?
A: Some kick in immediately, some phase in.
Q: How about bikes for public service officers to ticket cars illegally parked on street cleaning days?
A: Calderone- with a straight face- We’ll consider that.
Q: What are plans for $1 million neighborhood enhancement fund?
A: Beefed up Block of the year- develop with CANA- capital projects- $250K/year over 4 years.
Q: Assessments? updates underway?
A: still working with consultant. CANA should ask Keith McDonald to address a meeting.
Q: Can we still afford to pay big money to Palace? Alb. Institute for History & Art?,...
A: City has strong commitment to the arts, through grants decided by City Arts Commission and direct support.
Q: Can the Fire Dept. use disabled firefighters for code enforcement?
A: No.
Q: Are landfill fees up to date?
A. This has been responsibility of Treasurer’s office since April. No information available.
Q: Who pays for police overtime during legislative session?
A. There are no extra sources of revenue to cover that.

6. Other Business- none

Meeting adjourned at 9:15 pm                 Submitted by Marggie Skinner
Attendance November 3, 1999
Gene Solan Pine Hills NA                      Jack Nielson, Albany Police
Cynthia Galivan, Manning Blvd. NA                  Michael Trout, PSNA
Aimee Allaud, Melrose NA                      Shawn Morris, Common Council
Karen Brown, UTA                      Howie Stoller, Melrose Avenue
Roger Markovics, UTA                      Clare Yates, Center Square
Elfrieda Textores, SECC                      Dominick Calsolaro, Second Ave
Holly Katz, Mansion NA                      Suzanne Taiman, WPNA
Colin McNight, Mansion NA                     Phil Calderone, Deputy Mayor, Albany
Betsy Shearer, PSNA                      Scott Wexler, School Board-elect
Thomas Gebhardt, U@Albany                  Chris Hearley Albany Budget Dir.
Maria Parisella, Mansion NA                  Nancy Burton, Albany Comptroller
Don Wardle, UTA                          Dan Herring, Common Council
Jackie Heitzman, WPNA                      Harold Rubin, Center Square NA
Bob Sheehan, Helderberg                      Jimmy Scalzo, Common Council
Mary Connair, DANA                     Carm Basile, CDTA
Dennis Fitzgerald, CDTA                     Carol Wallace, Common Council
Joe Fahd, Albany Fire Dept.                     Jim Larson, Albany Fire Dept.
Carolyn McLaughlin, Common Council             Sarah Curry-Cobb, Common Council