Updated 10/01/2012 05:01 PM
Albany's proposed budget includes tax hike for homeowners
Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings outlined his plan for a budget for next year. He presented the plan Monday before the Albany Common Council. Jennings also spoke to Lori Chung about his vision for 2013. She has details now for us from city hall.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- "When you look at our budget, it's about $2.1 million more than last year. That's what the pension costs were," said Albany mayor Jerry Jennings.
Homeowners are being asked to help bear that load with a three percent tax increase. Jennings unveiled his spending plan for 2013, using a state formula that shifts the burden from commercial to residential which dodged an increase last year. City workers won't see a raise, but there won't be any layoffs either, with staffing levels remaining the same.
"We can't go much lower," said Jennings. "I don't want to close firehouses. I don't want to take police off the street."
That's welcome news to some city leaders who note Albany is doing well compared to other Upstate New York cities.
"There are other departments that I deal with, with chiefs of police that are agonizing over how they're going to cut their departments right now because they just don't have the money," said Police Chief Steven Krokoff.
The $170 million budget will now go to the city common council for review, as some leaders express concern that the city may be counting chickens that have yet to hatch.
"The mayor is again building this budget on a $7 million gift from the state," said Carolyn McLaughlin. "Although in the past he's been very successful at securing those funds for us, we have to go forward recognizing 'what do we do if we don't get it?'"
McLaughlin says overall, it's a positive budget presentation with funds earmarked for programs like SNUG, which was initially left out of last year's plan. But other leaders are concerned about cost-cutting measures they didn't see.
"The firemen and policemen in Albany get free health insurance after they've been on the payroll for eight years. Are we looking at doing something for them?" said councilman Dominick Calsolaro. "And it's not free while they're working, it's free for life."
With residential property owners paying more, the commercial tax rate will drop 1.5 percent. Officials say they're hoping to encourage more investment downtown, to help bring in more revenue which will help in years to come. City leaders have to finalize a budget by the end of November.