ALBANY, N.Y. — Legislation that would provide aid for the state's ownership of the Harriman State Office Campus to the City of Albany has been proposed by Assembly members Patricia Fahy and John McDonald III.
“For over 15 years, residents of the city of Albany have been actually more focused on seeing that whole campus privatized, so it can go on the tax roll and generate revenue and take the burden off the tax payers here in the city of Albany,” McDonald said.
But according to Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, that plan has changed.
“The state has started to take a different path and is putting more non-taxable offices on that state campus, and we're looking for revenue from the state to reflect the impact that has on the Capital City,” she said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to consolidate the Wadsworth Center health labs to the Harriman Campus. A section of the 330 acre campus was already under construction Thursday.
Sheehan is asking the state to pay 1.75 percent of the assessed value of the Harriman campus which is around $11.5 million. She says since the campus is being used primarily for state offices and state use, it should pay a PILOT, which is a payment in lieu of taxes, to the city annually.
Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber President Mark Egan said the PILOT will also be good for business.
“You have too many of our properties that are not on the tax roll,” he said. “This means the state isn't paying for their properties as well as our larger not-for-profits that aren't paying for their properties, so it's residents that are here are paying a disproportionate share. Ultimately, we need to lower the cost for everyone, so this really helps to level the playing field.”
Sheehan said the city of Albany has a $16 million budget gap, and the commercial properites not on the tax rolls is part of the problem.
“It is a revenue issue,” she said. “We can address some of the cost issues. There are ways we can be more efficient, but ultimately we're looking for revenue from the state to really help support the Capital City.”
Sheehan also announced a meeting of not-for-proft CEOs as a second part of her plan to close the budget deficit. During the meeting, the CEOs would determine ways they could help make monetary donations and provide free services.
Albany Medical Center President Jim Barba would take part in that meeting.
“Part of that might be in kind contributions,” he said. “The medical center already makes a few of those, but we could probably make more and without a doubt a part of it also no doubt will be monetary contributions to the city's treasury.”
Sheehan said she has been in contact with Cuomo's office about the PILOT aid payment.
“I look forward to having an opportunity to sit down with the governor one-on-one and talk about this issue,” she said.
The governor's budget office issued a statement Thursday on the PILOT payment and said: “The city of Albany has asked the state Fiscal Restructuring Board to work with them on a plan to address problems with their finances. It would be premature to entertain remedies until this plan is completed.”
The PILOT would add up to $11.7 million annually and would be paid for the next ten years, but it has not, yet, been approved.