[Adopted 4-19-2010 by Ord. No. 42.31.10]
The City of Albany hosts numerous corporations and associations which own real property and which are organized or conducted exclusively for charitable, hospital or educational purposes and including state-owned entities (hereinafter referred to as "exempt entities") and which are exempted by law in whole or in part from paying real property taxes. The City values the contributions of these exempt entities which are an integral part of the social fabric of Albany and help to establish Albany as a creative, dynamic and healthy community. The City of Albany has a commitment to ensuring its neighborhoods are safe, stable and thriving by making critical improvements and investments and providing reliable essential municipal services, including, but not limited to, police protection, fire protection, EMS services, street and highway construction, maintenance and lighting, snow removal, sanitation (inclusive of trash collection, disposal and recycling), and water and sewer services. These exempt entities and taxpayers alike benefit in substantially equal manner from these essential services, yet these exempt entities do not contribute to the payment of costs for these services.
The staggering national economic downturn of a severity not seen since the Great Depression has resulted in substantial reductions in state aid to the City and an alarming and recurring reduction in historical levels of sales tax revenues which threaten to necessitate severe cutbacks in vital municipal services. Incident to this national and state economic downturn, the City has experienced substantial cuts in the millions of dollars of state aid to municipalities support and will be faced with an additional reduction of $7,850,000 in state aid in the year 2011 pursuant to § 19-a of the Public Lands Law. The City's financial burden has been exacerbated by severely increasing pension contribution costs to the state's retirement systems for City employees, including police and fire, and by the ever increasing costs of health insurance payments for its employees which constitute fully 10% of the City budget. The City has just received from the state one final limited extension of the life cycle of its landfill which when it is required to close in the near future will dramatically add to the fiscal imbalance of future City budgets. Fully 81% of the City's budget expenditures (after inclusion of debt service payments) is allocable to personal service and benefit costs for its employees, of which over 63% of total personnel costs are chargeable for the support of the Police and Fire Departments, thereby making budgetary cuts to personnel extraordinarily painful, and these realities severely restrict the flexibility of discretion in budget-cutting options.
Due to the real property holdings of state government and the several other exempt entities, fully 53% of the assessed valuation of all real property in the City is tax-exempt, thereby increasing the real property tax burden on homeowners, renters and commercial property owners. When two of the three major revenue sources available to support City government, specifically, state aid and sales tax receipts, are severely diminishing, it would be imprudent and misguided to increase the real property tax burden on the major pillar of City revenue support, that is, residences and commercial property owners. It is with these severe budgetary constraints confronting the City that the Common Council has determined it to be sound public policy and advisable to establish the "City of Albany Commission on Public-Private Budgetary Cooperation" for the purpose of seeking assistance from the several exempt entities within the City to assist in addressing the budgetary concerns of the City.
The Common Council hereby establishes the City of Albany Commission on Public-Private Budgetary Cooperation.
The Commission shall consist of 11 members, with six members to be appointed by the Common Council and five members to be appointed by the Mayor. Of the members appointed by the Common Council, at least two shall be representative of the interests of the types of exempt entities described in § 42-368, and at least two shall be members of the Common Council. Of the members appointed by the Mayor, at least two shall be representative of the interests of the types of such exempt entities. Vacancies shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment.
The appointing authorities shall strive to include appointees who are authorities in fiscal budgetary issues and who are knowledgeable of efforts by other municipalities to successfully engage exempt entities in their jurisdictions in making financial and other contributions in support of their jurisdiction's budget.
The Mayor and the Common Council shall jointly designate co-chairs of the Commission. In making such designation, the appointing authorities shall coordinate their designations in order that at least one co-chair is representative of the interests of such exempt entities.
The Commission shall cease to exist six months following the submission of the final report to the Mayor and Common Council. Members shall serve without compensation.
The Commission shall submit a preliminary report to the Common Council and the Mayor within 120 days after all appointments of members have been made by the appointing authorities. Such report shall detail the Commission's findings as outlined in this section. The Commission shall submit its final written report to the Common Council and the Mayor within 120 days of the date it submitted its preliminary report. Such final report shall be detailed in its scope and shall identify the work engaged in by the Commission in fulfillment of the charges imposed upon it pursuant to such section. The report shall further include its findings, determinations and recommendations, including, but not limited to, any recommendations the Commission has determined necessary for the enactment or amendment of local or state law as may be necessary to accomplish any of its recommendations.
The report of the Commission shall provide findings with regard to the following topics:
The costs associated with providing certain essential City services to the exempt entities. The City essential services shall be for police protection, fire protection, EMS services, street and highway construction, maintenance and lighting, snow removal, sanitation (inclusive of trash collections, disposal and recycling), and water and sewer services. The Commission shall attempt to identify these costs by category of exempt entity based upon the total assessed value of real property owned by such entity which is wholly or partially tax exempt and the scope of use of such essential City services by such exempt entity.
Financial and programmatic contributions made by the exempt entities to municipalities in selected cities nationwide, including best practices in public-private partnerships in effect in such municipalities. The Commission shall identify whether these contributions are made to such municipalities pursuant to written voluntary contribution agreements, implementation of financing options authorized by federal tax provisions or pursuant to mandate imposed by state or local law.
Development of a standard methodology for valuing community partnership contributions made by the exempt entities.
Recommendation of a standard level of financial and programmatic contributions to be met by all large-scale exempt entities in Albany.
Identification of all necessary or advisable City and state legislation.
Consideration of how other state capital cities are reimbursed for exempt properties.
Review of any additional means to mitigate the impact of exempt entities on the City's tax base and to establish a fair and equitable approach to generating revenue to support City services.
The Commission shall have the power to request documents, conduct public hearings, hear testimony of witnesses, and take any other action it deems necessary to carry out its functions. Every department, office, division, agency or public authority of this City shall cooperate to the full extent possible with the Commission and furnish such information and assistance as the Commission determines is reasonably necessary to accomplish its purpose in a timely fashion. The Commission shall be authorized to seek the assistance of the Government Law Center of Albany Law School either on a pro bono basis or pursuant to a contract for reasonable compensation within the amount of any appropriation that may be made by the Common Council for such purposes.