Office of County Executive Steve McLaughlin
News Release: December 3, 2018
RENSSELAER COUNTY 2019 BUDGET ADOPTED, WITH COUNTY HOLDING LINE ON TAXES, MAINTAINING SERVICES AND REMAINING UNDER TAX CAP FOR EIGHTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR
Budget Reflects Optimism for “County on the Move” in Job Creation & Growth
The Rensselaer County 2019 budget was adopted at a special meeting of the County Legislature on Monday evening, the first budget formulated and approved under County Executive Steve McLaughlin’s administration. The budget was approved unanimously at the meeting.
The budget for next year includes no tax increase and is the eighth consecutive county budget to stay under the state tax cap. The budget will also protect the positive ratings and reviews earned by the county in recent years.
The 2019 spending plan also maintains resources for important county services for seniors, veterans and youths. County road and bridge repairs and improvements also received adequate funding.
“This budget is good news for residents and taxpayers, with the county avoiding a tax increase and remaining under the state tax cap for the eighth consecutive year. Rensselaer County is one of only a handful of counties to have stayed under the tax cap each year since it was implemented,” said McLaughlin.
“I want to thank Budget Director Stacey Farrar and the budget team for their hard work on the budget, and also extend thanks to Chair of the Legislature Mike Stammel and legislators who supported the 2019 spending plan. We believe this budget will continue the positive momentum and progress in our county,” added McLaughlin.
The budget received unanimous support from both sides of the aisle, with Minority Leader Peter Grimm terming the budget as a “responsible budget.”
The budget also reflects optimism about economic development and job creation efforts now ongoing in the county. The county was selected to host an Amazon distribution center in Schodack, which would accompany job expansion at Regeneron in East Greenbush, other expansions in the retail base and the opening of numerous small businesses.
“Our county is fortunate to have seen significant job creation and expansion of our retail and residential bases. This budget is a reflection of those positive developments, which is a benefit for our taxpayers and residents,” said McLaughlin.
“This is a strong budget, and one that will help encourage employers and investors to seriously consider our county as the place to be to start or expand a business or make a home here,” added McLaughlin.
Efficiencies employed by McLaughlin during 2018, his first year as Executive, helped hold the line on taxes. During the first three quarters of 2018, Rensselaer County saved approximately $1 million in savings in personnel costs during 2018, largely by keeping positions unfilled, or vacant for an extended period. The county also reached a savings of $600,000 in new purchasing efficiencies and strategies. The county has also created a $500,000 savings to the county for retiree health care, with $300,000 to be saved by retirees annually.
Along with the savings, the county was able to make investments in key areas during 2018. An additional $500,000 was allocated for paving projects in 2018, and just under $700,000 spent for highway equipment.
The 2019 budget will maintain strong reserves for the county, within prescribed limits set by the State Comptroller. The county has reserves of over $30 million, with the 2019 budget coming in at $347 million.
While successful at avoiding a property tax increase and staying under the state tax cap, the county still faces significant challenges from unfunded state mandates. The county will spend $140 million for social services and other mandated programs. In addition, the county is facing challenges from state Raise the Age Legislation and the Justice Equality Act. McLaughlin has put forward ideas to give counties more flexibility on how mandates are assigned to counties, noting such changes would help reduce property taxes and protect needed services.
“Sadly, we must once again join county leaders across the state in asking leaders in Albany to adopt comprehensive reform of unfunded mandates. Failure to reform these mandates will mean continued heavy pressure on taxpayers and needed services, which is unfair on the local level,” said McLaughlin.
A copy of the budget is available on-line at www.rensco.com.
For more information regarding this press release, call County Director of Operations Richard Crist, 518-270-2955 or 518-928-1920.