From the Albany Times Union:
Laying out her economic plan for the city Monday morning, Green Party mayoral candidate Theresa Portelli said she wants Albany to replace property tax with a land value tax to battle blight and create jobs, adding that she feels much-discussed plans for a downtown convention center and aquarium are not practical or sustainable.
“I’d rather invest and raise awareness of Albany as the sixth oldest city in the U.S.,” Portelli said outside the new Honest Weight Food Co-Op on Watervliet Avenue. “I think it’s really a tourist draw.”
Portelli chose to speak in front of the co-op because, she said, Albany needs more successful member-owned businesses that mirror Honest Weight.
She said that instead of standard property tax she’d like to see a land-use tax. Such a plan would disregard value of buildings and property and take into account the value of the land itself. Portelli said this would help force owners who sit on abandoned or vacant properties to give up or develop those assets. Portelli said she would like to see jobs created by hiring people to renovate those buildings into sustainable housing.
“We could get those buildings back on the tax roles, but also use it for jobs for our youth, returning veterans,” Portelli said.
Portelli admitted there would be fiscal hurdles.
Outgoing Mayor Jerry Jennings recently unveiled a $171 million spending plan that totaled $500,000 less than this year’s budget. The city will need to use $9.8 million from its fund balance to make up for a shortfall between revenue and expenses, leaving the 20-year mayor’s successor with $8.4 million in the fund balance.
Portelli said ideas like the convention center and aquarium shovel money toward developers with little payout for the city. With the looming closure of the city’s Rapp Road landfill, Portelli said she’d also said like to see the city recycle or compost 80 percent of its waste.
Election Day is Nov. 5.
Portelli, a former school board member, won her party’s nomination last month as a write-in candidate over William Peltz, a placeholder who never intended to run for office. Portelli’s 23-year-old son, Alexander, a Libertarian and pro-pot advocate, was running as an independent candidate until dropping out of the race in August. Theresa Portelli’s husband, John, who was at Monday’s gathering, was treasurer for Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein last year. The fiscal platform announced Monday is also supported by Peter LaVenia, secretary to the Green Party’s state committee and candidate for the Albany Common Council‘s 11th Ward seat. The Green Party has fewer than 200 enrolled members in Albany.