SCHENECTADY COUNTY — The 2018 Schenectady County budget is expected to include a small tax cut, a county legislative leader said Thursday.
While cautioning that he hasn’t seen details, Majority Leader Gary Hughes said he expects the budget to be unveiled Wednesday at Schenectady County Community College to contain good news for county property taxpayers.
“I think most of us [legislators] are anticipating there will be a tax reduction in there, no reduction in programs, and maybe some money for some new programs,” said Hughes, D-Schenectady.
The proposed operating budget, along with a five-year capital improvement plan, will be released at a 7 p.m. Wednesday special meeting of the County Legislature in the college’s Elston Hall.
The 2017 county budget totaled $318.6 million, with a property tax levy of $71.1 million. That budget froze the previous year’s property tax rates, as the county anticipated its first revenue from the Rivers Casino & Resort that opened in February.
As of Thursday, County Manager Kathleen Rooney was continuing to hold meetings and make modifications to the budget, county spokesman Joe McQueen said.
Since last year’s budget was adopted, the casino revenue has started coming in, and is expected to total more than $1 million. The county sales tax revenue also increased in the first half of the year, according to a state comptroller’s report released this summer. That prompted the Republicans who are in the legislative minority to say the county should provide a tax cut. Democrats at that point weren’t willing to make any commitments to a tax cut.
While noting the revenue improvements, Hughes also said that the county this year has managed to lower some costs without cutting programs, including refinancing millions of dollars in debt and reducing employee benefit expenses.
Because the county charter requires that the initial budget be released by Oct. 1, which falls on a Sunday this year, county officials decided to release the budget a few days early.
Release of the new budget will be followed by four budget review meetings the week of Oct. 2, and a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 10, in the County Legislative chamber on State Street. A meeting to consider adoption of the budget — any amendments will be considered at that time — is slated for Wednesday, Oct. 11, at 7 p.m.