Spending Albany’s money
August 6, 2008 at 1:12 pm by Scott Waldman
Will the Albany Common Council become stronger? A proposed local law could give them more power in how Albany’s money is spent after the approve it’s annual budget.
The proposed law would require council approval of any departmental reorganizations or any midyear raises for individual employees.
Once the council approves the budget in December, the mayor can take raises to the five-member Board of Estimate and Apportionment for approval without council oversight. The board includes the mayor, Council President Shawn Morris, City Comptroller Thomas Nitido, Treasurer Betty Barnette and Corporation Counsel John J. Reilly.About a dozen citizens showed up this morning at City Hall for a public hearing on the matter. Most appeared frustrated that their elected representatives don’t have the power to make key financial decisions.
Tim Carney called the council “a rubber stamp” for the Jennings administration. He said the local law would not go far enough. “This city has to change, it has to be brought into the 21st century and stop living in the 16 century.”
Council president pro tempore Richard Conti sponsored the law, which is awaiting Jennings’ approval, or veto (it would be Jennings’ first veto since he took office in 1994.) He said Albany is the last city in New York to have a city council that does not have the power to make budget decisions after it has passed. He said the new law is a “modest proposal” that would create a system of checks and balances.
Jennings has not yet commented on the proposal. A spokesman said the mayor will address it after he returns from a period of mourning following the death of his brother, Joe.