For the second year in a row, the city of Albany is receiving Capital City Aid after enduring a period of uncertainty before the final state budget deal came together. It’s not the full amount Albany was seeking.
Albany is getting $12 million as part of the new state budget agreement. An Assembly proposal would have given the city just $9.8 million — which likely would have resulted in dramatic cuts.
Local leaders had lobbied for $12.5 million, saying the annual aid is needed to offset untaxed state properties in the city.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan says her administration will deal with the $500,000 shortfall. "We've been able to see significant savings in past years when this funding either was not given to us at all or we were uncertain as to whether we were going to get it, with position savings. So, you know, not filling open positions, really taking a hard look at open positions as to whether we eliminate them entirely. We're also looking really hard at other sources that might be available for funding. Whether that's grant funding we can turn to. This will be a work in progress. We have to do this all year long. Whether it's this half million dollar shortfall or you know the unexpected failure of the closing for the Coeymans property to go through, you know that's another $620,000 shortfall so, we'll continue to work and do what we've been able to do throughout my administration, which is to deliver city services while seeking to balance the budget."
In 2017, Sheehan repeated her argument that several upstate cities receive much more money than Albany does. "Our AIM funding per capita — that's aid that comes to municipalities — is a quarter of what Buffalo and Rochester receive, or Syracuse receives. It's a third of what Rochester receives. It's almost a third of what Niagara Falls receives, and it's half of what Utica and Troy receive per capita. We are not being treated like any other large city in upstate New York. Of the cities that are ranked by the state comptroller's office of being in fiscal distress, we are the only city in the state, of our size, that is in significant fiscal distress."
The Democrat noted homeowners and residents throughout 25 unique neighborhoods bear a disproportionate burden of the Albany's tax levy.
Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget division has its own perspective regarding Albany's fiscal situation. Spokesman Morris Peters: “The state paid for a consultant to do a deep dive into ways the City of Albany can close their budget gap and, consistent with their recommendations, the state gave Albany a special $12.5 million last year. The report determined they’d need $9.8 million this year if they implemented savings recommendations. Still, the city requested another $12.5 million. The new state budget strikes a balance by making $12 million available, if needed, while ensuring that Albany pursues efficiencies. Last year, state money helped Albany achieve a surprise $6 million surplus, and that’s not fair to state taxpayers.”