At more than $179 million, Albany's proposed 2020 general fund is growing slightly by one and a quarter percent. In her budget proposal, Mayor Kathy Sheehan once again laid out her case for $12.5 million in Capital City Funding from the state.
"With this 12.5 million, we can manage to the rest of all of the challenges cities face, with respect to increased costs and challenges around revenue," Sheehan said.
A big focus in this budget is addressing quality of life concerns from revitalization to recreation. It includes $7.5 million to reconstruct streets, sidewalks, and more than $13 million for storm water and sewage infrastructure — not to mention commitment to safe spaces, with $1 million included for improvements to Lincoln Park.
"We have also allocated funding to further enhance summer youth employment programs, to extend weekend hours in our community centers, and to offer additional programming to seniors," Sheehan said.
"Those are things most council members are about. It's how in my specific neighborhood, no matter what neighborhood it is, how do we begin to deal with these quality of life issues, how they affects us, and also making sure we're talking about it in an equitable way," said Democratic Common Council President Corey Ellis.
In terms of public safety, the city is looking to acquire additional space for their police academy — which will allow 40 more officers to be trained at once.
"If this happens, we can get fully staffed very quickly [and we would be able] to train with other municipalities so we're all talking the same language," said Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins.
Hawkins says the budget will allow the police department and dispatchers to be fully staffed.
"I think we've got [a] system in place now that allows us to minimize the amount of stress these officers and dispatchers have. We're giving them hope," Hawkins said.
The city's proposal includes a small hike to property taxes, but Sheehan says there will be no impact to homeowners. Sheehan also announced a $50,000 commitment for outreach for the 2020 census. The investment would hopefully secure an increase in federal funding.
The 2020 budget plans have also been laid out in Schenectady County. The plans do not include tax increases but do include funding for the specialized Targeted Street Crime Unit and the Sheriff’s Drug Task Force.
The $16.6 million in the county, state, and federal funding will also go toward infrastructure projects. The county also says it will continue to invest in the Library System and SUNY Schenectady will also see more than $1 million for upgrades.