RENSSELAER COUNTY MAKING HISTORY WITH RECORD-SETTING PROPERTY TAX REDUCTIONS AND SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS, COUNTY EXECUTIVE STEVE MCLAUGHLIN TELLS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN ANNUAL STATE OF THE COUNTY ADDRESS
Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin delivered an optimistic and energetic State of the County address to the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, saying achievements in the county are historic and transformative.
McLaughlin said the county is becoming known across the state as a leader in reducing property taxes, while service improvements and facility upgrades are ushering in a higher level of service by county government.
“The property tax rate in Rensselaer County has been reduced by 37 percent during the past six budgets. That includes a 10 percent reduction in the county property tax rate delivered with my budget for the 2024 fiscal year,” said McLaughlin.
“County taxpayers now pay a rate comparable to almost 25 years ago. The average county property tax rate of $3.85 per thousand is equivalent to the amount paid by county taxpayers in the mid-1990s. You heard that correct: Rensselaer County taxpayers pay a rate that is comparable to what county taxpayers paid in 1996,” added McLaughlin.
The county has reduced property taxes by 37 percent during McLaughlin’s six years as County Executive while paving 255 miles of county roads and attracting record investment and job creation.
The Reimagine Rensselaer County project now underway with major components completed has modernized county facilities. New county offices at 99 Troy Road in East Greenbush are in service, with renovations and improvements at the County Office Building to host human services departments nearing completion. A new home for the Probation Department has been opened, along with the new county senior center in Troy and new Emergency Services Training Complex.
“Our Reimagine Rensselaer County project is literally transforming the image and operation of county government. During the past year, we have accomplished an impressive number of projects, and at every turn, equipped our county government to better serve our residents in a more modern, effective, safe and convenient manner,” said McLaughlin.
“For too long, Rensselaer County relied on facilities that were outdated or not fully prepared to serve residents. Some were not conveniently located, others became less efficient over time and others were on expensive rented property. In one space rented by the county, there was a single elevator, shared by recipients of our Department of Social Services and those assigned to our Probation Department. As Executive, I resolved to end that practice and restore dignity,” he continued.
The investment in Reimagine Rensselaer County and the 37 percent in property tax rate reductions has not jeopardized the county’s outstanding financial condition.
“The county has also maintained our very impressive fiscal ratings. Rensselaer County remains ranked just under elite status for our bonds and has completed other independent fiscal reviews which show effective, comprehensive and forward-thinking management of the county. The county holds an excellent Aa3 rating from Moody’s and an AA Stable rating from Standard & Poor’s. The county’s strong fiscal position is reflected in stronger returns on interest for county assets and the county’s purchase of Treasury bills to also generate better returns. Under my administration, our financial management team works to maximize opportunity and assets every day to benefit county residents,” said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin also discussed a major project utilizing federal funds to extend seven miles of water and sewer infrastructure along US 9 in Schodack. The road is already home to the Amazon distribution center, with a second Amazon project located in close proximity. McLaughlin said the infrastructure work, which extends from the Routes 9 & 20 split to the Columbia County border, will have major and positive impacts for economic development and quality of life.
“One project highlighted in the presentation you just saw involves our expansion of infrastructure on US Route 9 in Schodack. I have spoken of corridors of growth, the routes where commercial and industrial development can be concentrated to spur investment and job creation,” said McLaughlin.
“Using a portion of American Rescue Plan Act funds, the county has joined with the Town of Schodack to extend water and sewer for seven miles from the Routes 9 & 20 split to the Columbia County border. The project represents the most significant expansion of infrastructure in the county in decades and is further proof that Rensselaer County has arrived,” added McLaughlin.
Along with paving 255 miles of county roads, the county reopened the County Route 42 (Taborton Road) bridge in Sand Lake destroyed during the summer 2021 flooding. McLaughlin said he forecasts paving all 330 miles of the county road network during the coming two years.
“Just as we are becoming known across the state for leading the way in reducing property taxes, we are also becoming recognized for improving our county road network and setting records for the numbers of miles we have paved during my time as County Executive. A high-quality county road network adds to quality of life for our residents and convenience and efficiency for those doing business here in Rensselaer County,” said McLaughlin.
“These investments will benefit Rensselaer County today and for future generations, and we believe will spark and support a new era of prosperity and success for our county for generations to come,” he added.
McLaughlin is slated to deliver the official State of the County address during the March meeting of the Rensselaer County Legislature.