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No tax hike in Schenectady County budget plan

No tax hike in Schenectady County budget plan

Proposal would boost spending to $330M in 2019
No tax hike in Schenectady County budget plan
The Schenectady County office building is shown.
Photographer: File photo

Property taxes would remain unchanged in 2019 under the tentative budget proposed Monday by County Manager Kathleen Rooney.

Total spending would increase from this year's $319.8 million to $330.1 million, but the actual amount to be raised by property taxes would be unchanged — other revenue sources are expected to grow.

The proposed property tax levy is $70,431,103, the same dollar amount as this year. The actual tax rates in the city and towns may rise or fall in 2019 compared with 2018, depending on changes in their assessed property value, but those rates won't be calculated until later.

Taxes were cut by 1 percent in the current budget year and were held steady in 2017.

"The Legislature has worked closely with the manager and her staff to set our priorities and craft a budget that does not raise taxes while maintaining the services that our residents have come to expect from county government," said County Legislature Chairman Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam. "The Schenectady County Legislature has worked tirelessly the past couple of years to control costs that are within our control and work with our municipal partners to share resources and save our taxpayers money."

In a presentation to the County Legislature on Monday night, Rooney said that the average annual tax increase over the last 10 years has been less than 1 percent, as the county has eliminated and consolidated jobs to save money, paid off debt, taken measures to reduce energy use, and made other moves to save money.

"We built the capacity necessary to avoid lurching from crisis to crisis and have provided for the time and resources required to adapt to fiscal change that can come rapidly and with significant implications," Rooney wrote in part of her budget message to the Legislature.

Revenue other than property taxes includes $99.3 million from the county sales tax, $2.6 million from fees paid by the Rivers Casino & Resort, and $75,000 in excise taxes from a new medical marijuana growing facility expanded to open next year in Glenville. "As promised, 100 percent of the casino revenues were used to offset a property tax increase," Rooney wrote.

The tentative capital spending budget totals $21.1 million, which includes $8.4 million for a major renovation at Begley Hall at SUNY Schenectady Community College and $4 million to resurface or repave 50 miles of county-owned roads.

Rooney said the plans also include $1.7 million for improved technology infrastructure, including a new management system at the county jail, new security cameras at the jail, and new security cameras at the main branch of the County Library in downtown Schenectady, as well as one other location. She said $330,000 will be needed for major equipment repairs at the county ice rink in Glenville.

With the new Mont Pleasant Library expected to open on Crane Street in late spring, Rooney said there is money in the budget to increase hours of operation at that location from 26 hours to 51 hours per week.

The proposed budget includes $417,000 for the Discover Schenectady County Tourism and Convention Bureau and $200,000 to support Proctors, the downtown arts and theater complex. There is also $60,000 set aside for arts and events grants, the same amount as this year.

The Legislature will begin a series of workshops on the budget Tuesday and Wednesday nights, and potentially Oct. 9 and 10, as well. The public hearing on the proposed spending plan will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, in the County Legislature chambers in Schenectady. A special meeting to decide whether to adopt the budget will be held Monday, Oct. 22.

BUDGET DETAILS

                                   2018                             2019

Total Spending:          $319.8 million               $330.1 million

Tax Levy:                    $70.4 million                   $70.4 million

Tax Rate:                    N/A (will vary by municipality)

Tax Cap Override:      No                                   No

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