The City of Albany is challenged by high levels of property taxation and increasing poverty. Urban blight has overrun our historic neighborhoods and private-sector job opportunities are scarce. City financial management over the past several years has been an outright disaster, leading to a recent downgrade of the city’s credit rating with a negative outlook.
Our political leaders are helpless in the face of these challenges. The city failed to benefit from casino gaming, instituted a red-light camera program that added to Albany’s budget deficit, began charging renters for trash pick-up while quality affordable housing options became increasingly limited, and did not sell city-owned property in Coeymans despite budgeting $5 million of revenue from the sale. Most recently, the mayor attempted to sell the city-owned Palace Theater for just $1 and is promoting a publicly-funded gondola over the Hudson River.
Absent a change in direction, the city’s condition will only worsen. Taxes, fees and fines will increase as a result of the city’s irresponsible budgeting and financial management practices. Access to tax breaks will continue to be provided on the basis of political relationships while homeowners, tenants and small business owners will not see property tax relief. Urban blight will spread and further depress property values.
Gimmicks will not close Albany’s budget deficit and giveaways will not grow Albany’s economy. We deserve better. With city elections approaching, the time is now for us to organize to elect new leadership that will deliver on the promise of a fair city and real progress.