The Schenectady County Legislature on Tuesday voted to adopt its 2017 budget that will keep taxes flat for the next year.
In a unanimous vote, the legislature approved the proposed budget. The budget was amended in a few areas from the initial proposal, but the proposed tax freeze for 2017 is still in place.
The legislature only needed a few days for review prior to Tuesday’s scheduled vote on the budget. The result was a few changes intended to increase security and save energy in the county while maintaining the tax freeze.
One amendment sets the goal for the county to achieve energy independence by instituting new energy efficient programs, such as installing LED lighting throughout its facilities, and by relying more on solar energy.
Two other changes focus on security. One calls for increasing the hourly rate for special patrol officers who provide security at county facilities, with the hope of attracting more applicants. A portion of the raise is reimbursable through state and federal aid programs, according to a press release from the county.
Another safety amendment will provide for overlap training for two new full-time employees at the Schenectady County library. The new hires are part of a library reorganization due to retirements.
The tax freeze is largely thanks to expected revenue from the Rivers Casino & Resort, which is slated to open in early 2017. In addition to receiving a $2.5 million licensing fee, the county will receive 5 percent of the gaming revenue collected by New York state since it is the host community.
The budget calls for the first year of casino revenues to be used to pay off a portion of the county’s existing debt, which enables 2017’s property tax freeze, and would provide annual cost reductions of almost $900,000 in 2018 and following years.
In order to factor casino revenues into the budget proposal, the county looked at the Rivers Casino economic impact study. It used the low end of the first year estimated revenue range, which amounted to $3.3 million, and prorated it to a March 1 opening.
Reach Gazette reporter Brett Samuels at 395-3113, [email protected] or @Brett_Samuels27 on Twitter.