Reimagine Rensselaer County Plan will Modernize and Improve County Government, County Executive Steve McLaughlin and Legislators Announce
Effort Will Utilize Record Amount of Surplus Funds to Strengthen Services
Rensselaer County will be undertaking an ambitious plan to improve county facilities, expand important county services and broaden access for the public to county government, County Executive Steve McLaughlin announced.
The Reimagine Rensselaer County project will modernize and strengthen county services at all levels, said McLaughlin. Funds for the project come from surplus funds generated by the county during the past four years.
“This is a major step forward for Rensselaer County, and will ensure a solid platform of facilities and services for future generations. This is an investment in our operations and the future viability of county services and government and how we serve the public,” said McLaughlin.
“The funds come from surplus funds, and will allow for the improvements and expansions to be done without expensive bonding. We look forward to working with the County Legislature to make this project a reality,” added McLaughlin.
The resolution for the Reimagine Rensselaer County project has been introduced to the County Legislature, which may take up the resolution at the June 14 legislative meeting. The Reimagine Rensselaer County expansion and improvement effort would utilize $26.8 million. Along with county surplus funds, some funds from the federal American Rescue Plan would be utilized for the effort, and some previously budgeted funds would be used.
The components of the Reimagine Rensselaer County project include appropriations to allow for the improvement and fit-up for conversion of 99 Troy Road in East Greenbush. The county will be relocating many offices and services to 99 Troy, following a purchase approved this spring.
The move to 99 Troy Road would allow for the county to move human services functions, including Department of Social Services offices and Probation to move to the current County Office Building at 1600 7th Avenue and the adjoining county Health building. The move would mean the majority of county facilities would be in county ownership.
The county currently spends $1.1 million to rent Flanigan Square for DSS and Probation services, meaning the county has spent $11 million for the rental.
“We will be reducing our reliance on rented space, and thereby ensuring continuity and a solid foundation for the future for county services,” said McLaughlin.
The effort would also include $3 million to allow for maintenance and upgrades at the county Sewer District, utilizing ARA funds. The sewer district has supported major economic development and job creation projects in areas of the county.
The Reimagine Rensselaer County effort would provide for replacement and improvement of senior centers operated by the county. The county now has five senior centers in operation, including Troy, Rensselaer, Schodack, Grafton and Hoosick Falls. The replacement of the Troy senior center to a new site in downtown is now underway.
New components for the county emergency radio system would also be provided. Funding would replace emergency radios nearing the end of warranty, and help enhance coverage across the county.
The county has paved over 170 miles of county roads in four years. Funds included in the Reimagine Rensselaer County would allow the county to continue a strong paving effort in 2022, along with making additional investments in highway equipment. Funds would also be provided the replacement of a county garage in Cropseyville and allow for full-time use of the garage. Replacement of a recently closed bridge in Berlin would also be provided.
The funding for Reimagine Rensselaer County comes from surplus funds generated during the past four years from savings in personnel, energy and purchases and increases in sales tax revenues. During the same four years, county taxes have been reduced by nearly 20 percent under budgets introduced by McLaughlin.
The county ended 2021 with a $22 million surplus, the second consecutive year the county has generated a surplus of over $20 million. The county’s surplus has grown to $100 million, and is 50 percent higher than the amount recommended by the State Comptroller.
“We have been very fiscally responsive and have provided all essential services while building significant reserves for several years. Those actions have provided us the opportunity to take this critical step forward. This move to 99 Troy Road will be self- funded and will not require expensive borrowing that will place future financial burdens on the residents of the County,” said Vice Chair Bob Loveridge- East Schodack.
“This plan to move county offices and programs into more modern facilities is long overdue. Years of conscientious budgeting and smart financial planning has given us the ability to afford this ambitious program that will consolidate important programs into county owned facilities. We will be able to have county owned facilities that meet the standards of 21st century offices,” said Legislator Scott Bendett- Averill Park
“There is no doubt that this is an expensive undertaking, but I feel it is important to make these investments into county-owned facilities, our emergency radio communications, and our senior centers,” said Legislator Bill Maloney- Speigletown.