City officials to start budget review today

ALBANY -- The Albany City Commission will get a preliminary look at the Fiscal Year 2012 budget today in what will be the first of many reviews heading to the start of the new budget year on July 1.

The Albany Herald was provided access to the budget Monday.

According to the three-inch-thick document, the city is expecting to spend more than $108.3 million during the course of the next fiscal year -- a 2.9 percent increase from the current fiscal year.

The city's general fund -- the account from which the majority of the city's operating funds are disbursed -- is expected to be $56.7 million, a 0.2 percent reduction from the current fiscal year.

The city's special funds -- which include the Hotel/Motel fund, community and economic development, its grant fund, special local option sales tax fund and the Tax Allocation District fund -- are set at more than $21.7 million.

The city's enterprise funds -- items that generate revenues through fees on their usage and which aren't funded by taxes directly -- are expected to come in 1.5 percent higher than the current fiscal year at $29.8 million. Those funds include the sanitary sewer enterprise fund, the solid waste enterprise fund, the airport fund and the funds for the transit system, the Civic Center and the Municipal Auditorium.

Chief John Proctor and the Albany Police Department, which is presenting a $16.1 million budget, is requesting that the commission phase in roughly $2.5 million over the next few fiscal years for 25 new police officers to bump up the strength of the department that he believes has been lost because of the development of strategic units like the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit and the Gang Task Force.

The FY 2012 budget includes a $3.08 million transfer from the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission.

The document also suggests that the city is anticipating an uptick in sales tax revenues. The special-purpose local-option sales tax fund is anticipated to grow by 19.8 percent from its current levels, pouring $10.3 million into city coffers for voter-approved projects.

The budget also continues funding at its current levels for independent agencies, including the Boys & Girls Club, the Albany-Dougherty Inner City Authority, the Albany Area Arts Council, the Albany-Dougherty Economic Development Commission and Chehaw.

Of these agencies, Chehaw gets the lion's share at $1 million, with ADICA next at $389,155 and the EDC third at $250,000.

The budget also contains $2.5 million in grants that range from $90,000 for the Summer Lunch Bag Program to $20,000 for bullet-proof vests.