Daniel P. McCoy's fight against the oil trains and their big-money interests got the attention of Eleanor Randolph, a writer for the New York Times' Opinion Pages. Click here to read her piece.
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today presented the Executive Budget for 2016, a document that once again shows that the county is moving forward to build on the strength of a growing economy in the county. For the second consecutive year the $610 million spending plan proposes NO tax increase, reflects the administration’s efforts to cut spending, work within the tax cap and maintain quality services. This is the third consecutive year that McCoy’s executive’s budget proposal has come in under the state-mandated tax cap, and the fourth year he has presented a balanced budget.
“This budget shows we’ve done the tough job of working within our means, in partnership with the county workforce, and that we can provide needed services without raising taxes,” said McCoy. “Just four years ago we faced a devastating tax increase and only through our work to stabilize our finances have we been able to reduce costs and stay within the tax cap.”
The County Executive noted that even though significant portions of the budget are costs mandated by the state, the administration has endeavored to stabilize county finances and has reduced the county’s subsidy for the Albany County Nursing Home by 50 percent. Earlier this year, McCoy announced that for the first time in six years the county avoided using a Tax Anticipation Note in the short term to finance county expenses. He said the administration’s sound fiscal planning and strong cash position ensured the county did not have to borrow to pay bills.
“We have budgeted conservatively while embarking on new initiatives and programs to provide opportunity and services for residents,” said McCoy.
The budget includes an additional $500,000 in funding for the Albany County Land Bank Corporation, which received a previous $1 million allocation from the county split between 2014 and 2015. That allocation helped the Land Bank leverage an additional $2.8 million in funding from the Attorney General. Earlier this year the county transferred 121 properties to the land bank.
McCoy said the county anticipates a decrease in the cost to administer the Assigned Counsel program as the result of the work of Assigned Counsel Administrator Larry Rosen who was appointed by County Executive McCoy to oversee the Assigned Counsel program. The costs are forecast to be about $1.15 million, a $100,000 decline over the last two years.
Compared to 2014, changes implemented by new management at the Albany County Nursing Home have resulted in continued savings which will total nearly $5 million in 2016 in large part from improved scheduling for union employees and agreements with employees previously implemented.
Albany County has received a $750,000 CDBG grant to help seniors who want to stay in their homes afford necessary repairs. Aligning with the grant period, the Executive Budget includes the first half of an additional $250,000 of County funding to bring the total to help seniors to $1million.
The Executive Budget also forecasts growth of 1.1 in sales tax revenues, which will provide an estimated $104 million to municipalities in the county.
“The hallmark of this administration has been working to avoid gimmicks or one-shots for the budget. Over the last three years, we’ve delivered on that promise to the people of the county while establishing a framework for the future,” said McCoy. “I look forward to working with the County Legislature to keeping the county moving forward.”
The 2016 Executive budget can be accessed by clicking on the following link: www.albanycounty.com/budget
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy today announced two separate legal actions that the county has taken to protect the health and safety of Albany County residents in light of inaction by the federal government regarding the oversight of oil trains in the county.
In order to address the concerns voiced by the county executive, county residents and advocacy groups, Albany County along with the Ezra Prentice Homes Tenants Association, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Center for Biological Diversity, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and Catskill Mountainkeeper have put Global Companies, LLC on notice of their intent to file a federal lawsuit against the company for violations of the Clean Air Act. This follows the decision in May by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to notify Global that the agency intends to rescind the company’s Notice of Completed Application due in part to Global’s failure to disclose to the public its ambient air quality modeling for hydrogen sulfide and issues related to the firm’s compliance with emission regulations.
“Everyone has a right to breathe clean air,” said McCoy. “The process and disclosures on air quality impact of the Global facility have compromised the health of our community. Global has 60 days to come into compliance or we will take this before the court.”
Earthjustice attorney Chris Amato said,” Since 2012, Global has massively increased its emissions of air pollutants from the Albany Terminal without undergoing the stringent review and pollution controls required under the Clean Air Act. Today, we are putting Global on notice that they must comply with the Clean Air Act or face the consequences in federal court.”
Earthjustice is representing Albany County.
“Crude by rail endangers millions of New Yorkers every day– through the threat of derailments, spills and catastrophic explosions, said Sierra Club president Aaron Mair. “But it is low-income communities and people of color that have born the disproportionate brunt of this virtual pipeline on rails, especially at the Port of Albany. State policies and federal laws designed to protect our most vulnerable communities can no longer be ignored. The Sierra Club is proud to be joining Albany County in addressing this great environmental and social inequity."
"Shipment of Bakken crude poses an ongoing threat to the health of Albany’s residents, and also all the communities, waterways, and wildlife habitats this dangerous oil passes by on the way to the Global terminal and down the Hudson River. It’s time Global Partners follows the law and stands accountable for its impact on people and the environment,” said Mollie Matteson, senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“We appreciate the County Executive’s decision to take a strong stance in these two cases,” said Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper, Riverkeeper Inc. “We look forward to working with him to protect New Yorkers and their unique natural resources from the many threats posed by unsafe transport of crude oil in our state, which is a serious immediate threat not only to the communities of Albany, but also to communities up and down the Hudson River and to the River itself and all those who love and enjoy it.”
“The dramatic spike in the volume of crude oil received and stored at Global’s Albany Terminal and subsequently transported down the Hudson River has put our communities and natural resources at serious risk,” said Hayley Carlock, Scenic Hudson Director of Environmental Advocacy. “Global has been violating its air permit every time it accepts a shipment of Bakken crude and must stop handling this dangerous product until it complies with the law.”
“This area already has impacted air because of the oil traffic through the Port of Albany,” said Wes Gillingham, Program Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper. “Global mistakenly thought they could get away with increasing their output of oil and adding 40 tons or more of volatile organic compounds to the air. VOCs are a serious health threat to people exposed. The rail yard is twenty feet from a playground. The Clean Air Act was created to protect communities from this kind of behavior. This is a classic example of environmental injustice but this time they will not get away with disregarding the people of Albany and New York State.”
Second, Albany County is filing a brief in U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia against the U.S. Secretary of Transportation challenging the adequacy of the final rules promulgated by the secretary regarding oil by rail safety measures. The county, as represented by Earthjustice, will be seeking redress in requiring that oil tanker cars be upgraded to make them safer, to implement new standards in a more timely fashion, requiring an upgrade to braking systems, an expansion of the definition of “high threat urban areas,” more disclosure of routing decisions by transporters and the stabilization of crude oil before shipping in order to protect public safety.
“We’ve been fortunate that there has not been a serious incident – yet – in Albany County,” said McCoy. “But with nearly two billion gallons a year of oil being shipped through the county, we know there are significant gaps in the regulations implemented this year by the USDOT. We are working together on this suit to make our voices heard in Washington.”