Reimagine Rensselaer County Plan to Modernize and Improve Rensselaer County Government Approved by County Legislature, County Executive Steve McLaughlin and Legislators Announce
Reimagine Rensselaer County Will Utilize Record Amount of Surplus Funds for Project and to Strengthen Services
An ambitious plan to improve Rensselaer County facilities, update important county services and expand access and convenience to county government was approved by the County Legislature on Tuesday, County Executive Steve McLaughlin and members of the County Legislature announced.
The Reimagine Rensselaer County will utilize a portion of a record surplus earned and assembled by the county during the past four years. The project will also help the county to reduce a long-standing reliance on rented property for certain county services.
The Reimagine Rensselaer County project will modernize and strengthen county services at all levels of county government, with funds used to support purchase of new county offices in East Greenbush, said McLaughlin.
“Rensselaer County will have more modern and accessible facilities thanks to the Reimagine Rensselaer County project. This is a major step forward for our county, and will serve us well for future years and generations,” said McLaughlin.
“The support of county legislators for the Reimagine Rensselaer County project is appreciated and helpful in moving this work along expeditiously. The funding for the work largely comes from surplus funds we have built thanks to solid management and careful budgeting,” added McLaughlin.
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 over the past decade.
“Reducing our dependence on rented space helps ensure productive and efficient long-term use of county facilities. We will no longer have to move important county services every several years, and be able to utilize facilities that are properly configured for use,” added 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 done the hard work to assemble a surplus, and that surplus now significantly exceeds the amount recommended by the State Comptroller. The surplus allows us to begin long overdue work to modernize and improve county facilities, and over the coming years, have more efficient, less expensive and convenient facilities to serve the public,” said McLaughlin.
Members of the legislative majority offered strong support for the Reimagine Rensselaer County plan.
“This is a huge step forward for Rensselaer County. It is a large investment in our County’s future, and a sound financial decision that received the full support of the Minority Legislators from Troy,” said Chairwoman Kelly Hoffman- North Greenbush.
“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 truly modernize county offices and help streamline our operations in other buildings,” said Vice Chair Bob Loveridge - East Schodack.
“In all of my years on the Legislature, I have never seen such a large, one time, investment in county facilities and equipment. A new highway garage in Cropseyville is something I have advocated for many times, and it is desperately needed along with the additional investment we will be making in highway equipment,” said Majority Leader Ken Herrington- Brunswick.
“Bringing our county offices into the 21st century is an important priority for our residents and our employees. Years of smart budgeting and financial planning have given us the ability to pay for these ambitious projects without borrowing and burdening future generations,” said Legislator Scott Bendett - Averill Park.
“A new senior center for Hoosick Falls is long overdue, and I am pleased that it is included in this plan. The improvements at the highway garage in Cropseyville are a welcome improvement because will help improve the level of service to Grafton and areas along the Route 2 corridor,” said Legislator Jeff Wysocki - Hoosick Falls.
“The Rensselaer Senior Center is an important place for our Rensselaer resident, and I am pleased to support the Reimagine Rensselaer County Plan that plans to find a new center for our seniors,” said Legislator Brian Stall - Rensselaer.