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Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations

Meeting Minutes June 2, 2004

Albany Public Library


1)     Introductions


2)     Minutes

            Minutes of the May 5, 2004 , meeting were approved.


3)     Speakers/Discussion


        Dr. Roger George of the Albany City School Superintendent's Office presented materials to address concerns and answer questions that were raised at last month's CANA meeting regarding the impact of the facilities plan on property taxes.  In December 2001 it was anticipated that the annual increase to taxpayers for the facilities plan would be 6/10 of 1 percent per year for the next 8 years for a total of 4.8%.  However, the budget presented to voters for approval is greater than that.  This is due, in part, to the State's now delaying 18 months before forwarding funds to the school districts. 


In response to voter's disapproval in May of the school budget for the upcoming year, the school board has recommended several reductions which total $2,637.000.  The board has also added $59,000 for dual language kindergarten class. Therefore, the voters will be presented with an increase of only $8.0 million rather than the $10.6 that was on the original ballot.  This will mean a tax rate increase of 5.9 percent rather than 10 percent.  Dr. George provided a list of the programs and items that will be reduced.  Cuts must be made across the district, not just in certain schools. 


If the revised budget is not approved by voters on June 22, a contingency budget will be put into place.  It will eliminate the purchase of equipment, supplies for student use, and the free use of school facilities by outside groups.


Members were encouraged reach out to citizens in their neighborhoods to increase the number o residents who vote on the budget. 


        Albany City Comptroller Tom Nitido presented an overview of the City of Albany budget process. Departmental budgets are developed by managers during March of each year.  They are then submitted to the mayor in May.  Subsequently they are compiled and printed in August.  The mayor presents the budget in August and it is voted on in November by the Common Council.  The comptroller's job is to administer the budget throughout the year.


Compared to other upstate NY cities, Albany is in sound fiscal condition and has a credit rating of A3.  Over the past several years, Albany has maintained a favorable credit rating by borrowing with short amortization periods.  The landfill, however, is amortized over a long period of time.  It will take in $12 million and saves Albany $4 million in disposal fees.


In recent years the City has spent a substantial amount on the repair and replacement of streets.  Expenses for public safety account for 65-70 percent of Albany 's expenditures.  Approximately $9 million is spent annually for employee health benefits, and an equal amount for their retirement benefits.  $Ten million is paid annually to retirees.


Off-the-books spending from the non-general fund is monitored by the comptroller's office.  Police-seized assets are included; those assets are presently being audited and a report will be published later this month. 


Department managers can request changes to their budget lines.  The Board of Estimate and Apportionment meets every two weeks to consider those changes.  The city's charter permits changes up to 4 percent. 


The City has done a good job over the last five to six years of increasing sources of revenue, but has not been as successful in cutting costs.  Many expenses, however, cannot be controlled.   Capital budgets are prepared for five-year periods, but are only realistic for the first year. 


Revenue from the landfill accounts for 10 percent of Albany 's revenue.  There are four or five years of payments left for the landfill, and an expansion plan is underway.  That expansion will result in more room and a new shredder.   Ten years ago the City took purchase options on land in the Town of Coeymans and has been paying for it on a 20 year amortization plan.  


The City debt is $91 million or $96 per person and only 55-50 percent of the legal bonding limit.


The budget does not contain an item specific to the costs of complying with anti-terrorism standards.  It is contained within the budget for the police and fire departments.  The federal government has been billed for costs related to anti-terrorism, but payment to cities has been slow.


With regard to the use of the Washington Avenue Armory as a new main branch for the Albany Public Library, the mayor has determined that necessary renovations would be too costly and that they could only be paid for by increasing taxes. 


The date the Harriman State Office Campus will be put back on the City's tax rolls is uncertain.


Revenue from parking is based on tickets written.  It's too early to tell what revenue can be anticipated from cash collected from parking meters. 


The city council has proposed that the comptroller provide a list of running expenses to them.


It's necessary to replace police cars every three years and $500,000 per year is spent purchasing police vehicles.  The city takes advantage of low interest rates for these purchases by only bonding them for only three years.


Overtime is one of the city's largest expenses and is based on contractual agreements.  It is difficult to determine in advance what the expense will be each year.



4)     Committee Reports


Committee on University and Community Relations - Tom Gebhardt

The next meeting will be at 7:00 PM on June 9 at the Albany Police Department at 526 Central Avenue .  A copy of the agenda was distributed.  The "Spring Seven-Point Plan" which includes the "Trash to Treasure Program" will be discussed and evaluated.  Additionally, the possibility of creating a "Landowner/Tenants Rights/Responsibilities" brochure for distribution in the fall will be considered.


CANA Budget Committee


Pat Maxon and Craig Waltz have volunteered to serve and will review last year's work.  Additional members are needed.


CANA Zoning Committee


The CANA Zoning Committee has been reformed and will be meeting later this month.


5)     Communications and Announcements


The Mansion Hill Neighborhood Association will sponsor a Neighborhood and Garden Tour on June 3 from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM .  Admission is $15.00, and free parking is provided. 


The meeting adjourned at 9:00 PM .




                                                                                                      Submitted by

                                                                                                      Deanna Colfels



June 2, 2004

Meeting Attendees





PO Kathi Rissberger


536 Western Ave

Daniel VanRiper

Lincoln Park NA

223 So. Swan

Cmdr. Aaron Flangel


536 Western Ave

Kenneth D. MyIntyre



Jack Consiglio


73 No Allen St

Colin McKnight


45 Elm St

Marggie Skinner


49 Ryckman Ave

Elfreida Textores

South End

70 Third Ave

Paul M. Malecki

New Scotland/Woodlawn

501 West Lawrence St

John Cirrin

Albany Public Library

Barbara Smith

Arbor Hill

235 Livingston Ave

Gene Solan

Pine Hills

126 So. Allen St

Harold Rubin

Center Square

156 Chestnut St

Thomas Gebhardt

University at Albany

1400 Washington Ave

Craig Holt

Helderberg NA


Stephen Winters


22 Second Ave

Tom Nitido

City of Albany

City Hall, Eagle St

Dominick Calsolaro

Common Council/Second Ave NA


Mary Connair


68 Summit Ave




Howard Stoller





Dennis Mosley


550 Myrtle Ave

Patricia Maxon


34 Victor St

Bill Cleveland

West End

9 Essex Street