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5-2-01 Minutes
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5-2-01 Attendees

Council of Albany Neighborhood Associations

Meeting Minutes of

May 2, 2001

Albany Public Library

  1. The meeting was called to order by Howard Stoller, new CANA Chair
  2. Introductions
  3. Minutes: Amendment/addition requested by Mary Connaire that last month’s Minutes (4/4/01) be amended to include her statement that DANA is still optimistic about their future as a C-1 District. A motion to accept Minutes as amended was made by Clare Yates and seconded by Harold Rubin
  4. Communications/Announcements…. a CANA Correspondence box was passed around
Marggie Skinner announced her resignation from CANA. She has resigned as CANA Chair, and she has resigned from the Executive Committee. Marggie has been involved in CANA for 25 years. A motion was made by Henry Madej that CANA accept the following:

"Resolution—1. In the case of the resignation of a chair of CANA, which shall also constitute a resignation by that individual from the Executive Committee, the position of Past Chair on the Executive Committee shall be filled by the most immediate past chair serving then serving as a CANA delegate. 2. In this case the position shall be Harold Rubin. "

Motion was seconded by Steve Winters and passed unanimously.

Result: Harold Rubin will remain Past Chair. Also, there are 2 vacancies on the CANA Board.

Elfrida Textores handed out Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) literature re. Annual event in Pittsburgh 5/23-26/01
Joe Culver announced a Capital District Home Buyer Fair on Saturday, June 9 from 10 AM-4 PM at the Pepsi Arena…everything you need to know about buying or selling a home, featuring 20 banks and lenders & non-profit groups (no fee charged) and sponsored by the City of Albany, Banknorth Mortgage, Evergreen Bank, FannieMae & the Greater Capital Association of Realtors, Inc.
Bob Cohen: Alliance for Quality Education is a coalition of over 150 organizations advocating increased school aid for urban and rural children in NYS. To overcome the Budget hold-up re. school aid, they’re initiating a postcard campaign: "Our Children Can’t Wait To Receive A Quality Education" (postcards can be filled-out here tonight). If school aid decision is implemented there would be an 18% increase for Albany schools.
Harold Rubin circulated a list seeking information re. regularly scheduled meetings of neighborhood associations.
Kathleen Kearney: The Whitney M. Young Community Health Festival featuring the AHRDC City-wide Neighborhood Watch Expo will be held Saturday, June 9, 11AM to 3 PM at Lark & Arbor Drives. This is WMY’s 30th Anniversary and, teamed with Albany Housing Authority’s City-wide Neighborhood Watch Expo, promises to be a huge event featuring guest speakers, dignitaries, politicians, the Albany Police Dept. (Community Relations Officers, the canine unit, the mounted unit, DARE, gang prevention), the Albany Fire Dept. and the AFD Bus, insurance/alarm companies et al (booths),reps from the Attorney General’s Office (internet crime prevention, drug houses), a petting zoo, pony rides, a talent showcase, performers, food, and more.
Waterfront Living History—public meeting: Giffen School, 5/7/01, 6-8 PM
CANA’s 25th Anniversary Party—looking for a chair. Many helpers have volunteered & many will be needed.
  1. Committee Reports
    1. University & Community Relations—Tom Gephardt. They will meet throughout the summer and will walk with the Police. Next meeting will be Wednesday, May 9, 7 PM at the Albany Police Department at 526 Central Ave. Topics will include: Updates re. Annual Spring 2001 "Six-Point Plan" (end of year trash pick up, safety and behavior off campus) which includes door-to-door "Having a House Party?" door tag; the City’s "Pine Hills Parking Committee"; and, updated Tavern Owner Advertisement Agreement. Report included flyers re: "Burn Your Burgers, Not Your Apartment!!" "How Safe Downtown", "Friends Don’t Let Friends Drive Drunk. Don’t Drink and Drive!!" and "Help Can Be A Whistle Away!" Also, Mary Connair reported that the "Christmas in April " project cleared the lot at the vacant Lutheran church with help from the SUNY Women’s Basketball Team!
    2. Community Police Council—Will meet on the third Wednesday, May 16 at 5 PM at City Hall to honor the "Officer of the Year"—Lt. Steve Stella and the "Citizen of the Year"—Mark Yolles
    3. QoL Surveys…Year IIDavid Pfaff. About 32,600 surveys are ready to be distributed. The survey will be an insert in next Monday’s Times Union. Survey display boxes to be placed in strategic locations will be distributed to the Albany Housing Authority, branches of the Albany Public Library, and Stewart’s Stores (volunteers agreed to check Stewart’s boxes re. refills). Last year TU paid all costs, but not this year. Printing cost $1500-1600 and this year was underwritten by the NRC. We may have to seek corporate sponsorship next year. Software has been ordered to read surveys.
    4. NRC Annual Members MeetingGene Solan. All are invited: Tuesday, May 15, 6 to 8 PM at Sage College Albany--Campus Center on Academy Road. The 2001 honorees are: Mary Connair (DANA)—The Thomas J. Senchyna Neighborhood Service Award. And the 2001 Certificates of Recognition… Judy Stacey, Albany City Gardener, DGS—Outstanding Public Official; Historic Albany Foundation—Outstanding Organization; and the Hudson/Park Neighborhood News—Outstanding Publication. Guest Speaker: Deirdre Oakley of the Lewis Mumford Center. Topic: 2000 Census: Population Diversity. Please send in your $5.00 membership dues and join the NRC!
    5. Lincoln Park PoolTom McPheeters. Bathhouse renovation continues. Consider having events at the pool/bathhouse. They have not yet met with the Mayor about the pool. Good Neighbor Plan—Tom McPheeters. Dispute resolution re. group homes. Municipal officials in Albany County like the idea. They had a meeting in Colonie and 40 people showed up…mayors and public officials attended. Tom proposes CANA send a representative to their meetings (they meet every 2-3 months). All interested can call Tom at 433-0679.
    6. State Employee ParkingJeff Stats of PEF & Kathy Garrison of CSEA. The Pataki administration is proposing charging for parking at the uptown campus and at 44 & 84 Holland Avenue. They said: they don’t want to see a spillover of parkers on residential streets and the stress of looking for parking places… that the campus and Holland Ave. are good and have parking… why does the State want to put employees in competition with residents?… the fee is small but it’s the principle—NYS has a $3.5billion surplus. Can’t we work together? Clare Yates offered to support them if they wouldn’t oppose our proposed permit parking downtown. Henry Madej reminded all that CANA is not necessarily unanimous re. the permit system and that 33-35% of parking in Albany is taken by the State, not just the unions.
    7. Life Craft FoundationRev. Joyce Hartwell. This is a not-for-profit organization with 27 years of history/experience that started out training women for the building trades/construction in 1976. They’re looking for a home--a community celebration space for a restaurant-cabaret, plus room for arts & crafts gallery, and workshops re. education in home & historical renovations. George Leveille (ALDC) suggested Central Avenue. That’s where they found School 10 (the right size in a nice, visible, public area) but the City won’t say "yes". Aaron Mair proposed that CANA pass a resolution to support the project --specific to School 10--and Harold Rubin seconded it. "CANA supports this concept and the reuse of historic structures in the City of Albany". Resolution passed, unanimous.
  2. Albany City Schools. 2001-2001 Budget/Facilities Plan—Lonnie Palmer, Superintendent and Scott Wexler, Pres. School Board. (The following is taken from an information packet distributed by the speakers.)
How does the 2001-02 budget compare with past years? Budget rising from $115 million to $120 million…. 4.5% tax rate increase…. District property tax rate has actually declined by 1.1% over the previous three years.
What are the major areas of increase? Educational program improvements=$1.8 million… New Covenant Charter School=$1.2 million…. Utilities=$1.2 million ($.90/gal fuel oil until 7/1/01)…. Full-day Kindergarten=$567.000…. Equipment (eliminated in 2000-01)=$263,000…. Raises for existing staff=$600,000…. TOTAL=$5,630,000.
What cost-savings efforts were adopted? Cut administration=$160,000…. New employee health insurance program=$600,000 (savings with Blue Cross)…. Implementation of "team cleaning"=$300,000…. Use of CDTA "Swiper Cards" for bus service=$200,000 (estimated)…. TOTAL COST SAVING EFFORTS=$126,000.
1997-98—20001-02 Administrative Positions & Costs: Total administrative positions FTE reduced 17% from 66.2 to 55.0…. Total number of people in part-and full-time administrative positions reduced 27% from 75.0 to 55.0…. Total positions FTE paid by local tax dollars reduced 30% from 63.9 to 45.0…. Total positions FTE paid by grants reduced from 2.2 to 10.0.
Revenue changes (in millions): State Aid (April 2001)=2.0…. Property Taxes=1.0…. Fund Balance=1.5…. Other=0.5…. TOTAL=5.
Phasing Out of Homestead: Present Tax Rate: Homestead=$19.31, Non-homestead=$26.91…. 2001-02 Tax Rate: Homestead=$20.18 (4.5%), Non-homestead=26.72 (-0.7%)…. As the two rates merge onto one, homeowner tax rates go up as business rates go down…. Tax rate impact for 2001-02=2.7%
Charter School Costs: Total cost of charter school 2001-02=$4.2M…. Increase over 2000-01=$1.2M…. State aid to offset charter school costs=0…. Tax rate impact of charter school=1.6%…. In 2000-01, New Covenant has approximately 350 students enrolled. The district budget includes funds for an enrollment of 600 students for 2001-02.
Albany vs. Area Schools, Tax Rate Increases for Last 3 Years: 12 area school districts’ average=3.3%…. Albany’s average (decrease)= -0.4%…. Highest one-year increase in area=6.9%…. Lowest one-year increase in area (Albany schools in 1998--Decrease)= -2.6%…. Lowest three-year average (Albany City School District--Decrease)= -0.4%
Tax Rate Impact of 4.5% Increase (for $80,000 home): Average Albany home assessment=$80,000…. Present tax rate=$19.31 per $1,000…. Avg. tax bill=$19.31x80=$1,544,8…. 4.5% tax increase ($20.18 per $1,000)=$1,614.40.
Tax Rate Impact of 4.5% Increase (for $80,000 home): 2000-01 Tax Bill with STAR exmptn @ $20,000=$1,158.60 …. 2001-02 Tax Bill (est.) with STAR exmptn @ $30,000=$1,009.00…. A decrease of $149.60.
Tax Impact With and Without STAR: Tax bill figures are based on the average assessment in the City of Albany of $80,000. See table.
Tax Rate Increase/Decrease 1986-2001: See table.
What are the Albany City School District’s academic goals? 1. Improve English language arts performance; 2. Improve math performance; 3. Reduce suspensions; 4. Increase attendance; 5. Improve Regents results.
We’re improving, but there’s more to be done: The student dropout rate fell from 5.1% to 2.4% in three years. The number of students graduating from Albany High increased from 310 in 1998 to 409 in 2000 (32%). More students are taking–and passing—the English and math Regents exams. Hackett and Livingston middle schools have instituted comprehensive improvement plans that are showing promising results.
What program improvements and new services are included in the budget? Increased staffing to continue implementation of full-day kindergarten…. Increased staffing to maintain or further reduce class size (20.9 students per elementary class)…. Expanded the alternative education program at Abrooken, Harriet Gibbons, and the elementary Transitional Learning Center…. Added six special education teachers and eight teaching assistants…. Increased staffing and programs at Albany High to provide academic intervention in English and math…. Increased staffing for the Integrated Special Education Program at Albany High…. Added classroom support in English, math, social studies, biology, and chemistry at Albany High…. Expanded summer school opportunities…. Increased clerical hours so that all school offices will be open 12 months a year…. Increased hours for a software analyst to diagnose student academic deficiencies…. Increased technology staffing, where necessary, from 10 to 12 months…. Increased support for the elementary science program.
What would an austerity budget mean for Albany? Maximum capped budget @ $119.0 million…. Proposed budget @ $120.6 million…. Necessary budget cuts @ $1.57 million.
What cuts might there be with an austerity budget? Layoffs and other cuts totaling $1.57 million…. Each teacher layoff saves $35,000 (30 layoffs=$1 million)…. Each support staff layoff saves $15,000 (65 layoffs=$1 million)…. Each administrative layoff saves $65,000 (15 layoffs=$1 million)…. Remaining cuts would come from equipment and community use of schools as mandated by law.
Who votes on the school district budget? Of Albany’s 61,000 registered voters, 3,824 voted last year (less than 7%).
How can I vote on the budget? Tuesday, May 15, 2001, noon to 9PM. Call the Board of Elections at 487-5060 or the clerk of the board, Linda Shickle, at 462-7200 for your polling place. Voters must be registered with the County Board of Elections or school district. Bring identification to the polls.
Note: If budget fails, it can go up for re-vote by 7/1!