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Albany 2020 Budget Plan Unveiled

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan has proposed her budget plan for 2020.

The Democrat says the nearly $180 million spending plan continues her commitment to fiscal responsibility while focusing on improving the quality of life for Albany’s residents. The spending plan marks a 1.25 percent increase from the current budget.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
“My budget builds upon my administration’s mission of creating a fiscally sustainable future for our City.” ~ Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.

As usual, the proposal relies on $12.5 million in so-called Capital City funding from the state. Sheehan is again seeking to make that aid permanent.   "This budget also is focused on ensuring that we continue to make the case for our permanent increase of $12.5 million, to the city's fair share. So that is built into this budget and we want to make sure that we continue to make that case and we've made that case by making fiscally responsible decisions. This number as I say over and over again to my friend the governor, this number hasn't changed, because as I've said from the beginning that this is a structural deficit and it has not grown because what I have always committed to is doing the rest with this $12.5 million we can manage to the rest of all of the challenges that cities face with respect to increases in costs and challenges around revenue."

The spending plan includes $7.5 million for street and sidewalk improvements and $13 million for stormwater and sewer upgrades. It also maintains the $90 curbside trash collection fee per family unit.

With respect to public safety, Sheehan says her plan follows budget tradition in funding full staffing of police and fire departments.   "This budget does include some increases for Command Staff within our fire department. We were able to make some adjustments that were much needed within the police department last year, and we need to do the same thing in the fire department, so that we can continue to incentivize people to take leadership roles within these departments. As you know, we're not unique, this happens, you know, across municipalities, that when you, often times when you're promoted to command staff it actually results in a reduction in pay. We have to make sure that that doesn't happen and this budget addresses that issue.”

Sheehan says the budget will fund a new academy for the police department that could accommodate up to 40 officers. And she says the city is in talks with outside law enforcement agencies who might use the space for training.

Sheehan says the budget funds revitalization of parks and city recreation programs, sidewalk repairs, I.T. and prevention of cyber-attacks like the ransomware episode that crippled the city last spring.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
Common Council President Corey Ellis discusses the budget with a fellow councilor.

Common Council President Corey Ellis, also a Democrat, says the panel is pleased with the mayor's proposed spending plan.   "Well, we'll be having our meetings, bringing in our commissioners, discuss that and you know, we have to pass it, have to pass it. So all that is the process of making sure the council members questions get answered, making sure each commissioner understands where the council members are coming from, which I think this presentation showed that the administration has shown that they've taken a lot of the council members’ suggestions about how they how they would like to see the budget and how it would affect their particular neighborhood."

Last year, the budget was approved by the Common Council in November.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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