As spring draws near, the Albany Common Council will be evaluating capital funding requests from city departments.
The council will analyze nearly $19 million in bond requests. Jack Flynn represents the 8th ward. "So basically what the Common Council does is, we get a bunch of bonds from the mayor's office and the treasurer's office and we have the heads of the departments come during the week, usually 5:30 at city hall and we ask them to justify the reason for the money. Some of them can take five minutes to discuss, some can take an hour to discuss. Some are pretty easy, some are necessities, some are things that we don't put in the budget."
The council, which has several new faces after November’s elections, will consider outstanding balances and bonds previously authorized. The city wants to borrow to fund more than 20 initiatives including $5 million related to the Rapp Road Landfill.
Discussions about the landfill closing go back to the early 1990s; it’s expected to be at capacity within 5 years.
The city has been developing post-closure disposal options. In May 2017, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan announced a series of Solid Waste Management Plan Community Meetings on the heels of news that the city had put out a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a proposed solid waste transfer station.
Sheehan noted the importance that residents "have a good solid background and history of the process..." "...how we do it, the steps that we take, the costs associated with it. And so, as we plan for a future without our landfill, we thought it was really important that we start by providing a common understanding of how solid waste management works in the city, what it costs, and then to talk about what some possibilities are, by looking at what's happening in other communities across the state and how it's done in other places. These meetings are really important because it gives our property owners, our residents, the ability to get that common understanding and help to provide input with respect to how we move forward."
In December, Sheehan’s chief of staff Brian Shea told the Times Union five entities responded to the city's RFP.
Councilman Flynn advises interested citizens to attend evening council meetings. "Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Finance meetings, law meetings. The Common Council has, I believe, nine committees. That's when we actually discuss a lot. The public can actually come into those meetings and actually voice their opinion like more of a dialogue. As you know, the meetings on Monday night are just public hearings. But if they come to the meetings Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday they actually get to engage back and forth with the council members on a lot of the issues. A lot of people don't realize 'why did we vote for something?' They don't realize that we've already been to a lot of other meetings beside just the Monday night meeting."
Weekday meetings are at 5:30 p.m..