The proposed 2022 Rensselaer County budget will include the biggest property tax rate reduction in county history while maintaining important county services and overall fiscal stability, County Executive Steve McLaughlin.
The 2022 budget proposal as presented by McLaughlin includes a 10 percent property tax rate reduction. The 10 percent tax rate reduction is the fourth consecutive tax reduction by McLaughlin, and combined, the four tax reductions total just under 18 percent.
The tax decrease reflects the county’s strong financial position and effective management of county finances during his term, McLaughlin told legislators. The county has been able to grow the surplus by several times, thanks to efficiencies employed by his administration and strong performance with sales tax.
The county was able to accomplish that great work during the pandemic, McLaughlin noted in the presentation. The county recently earned a 0 score, the best possible, on the fiscal stress test from the New York State Comptroller.
The story of this budget is not just the 10 percent tax rate reduction proposed for 2022, and the fourth consecutive property tax rate reduction in four years. This is not about our county seeing revenues accelerate even during a time of uncertainty. The story of this budget is that Rensselaer County repeatedly met challenges and obstacles with common-sense, hard work and a commitment to getting results for our residents.
We met challenges with common-sense, competence and compassion and the results show that we delivered. When things were at their worst, so many in our county were at their best and it will not be forgotten.
“Our record on taxes is solid and long-standing. We should recognize Rensselaer County’s record of staying below the state property tax cap every year the cap has been in place, over a decade. We can also say that Rensselaer County is likely to offer the largest property tax rate decrease to residents across all of New York State,” said McLaughlin.
“Yes, our residents will share in our success and see a reduction in county property taxes. But I regard the 10 percent property tax rate reduction as an investment in our future and a foundation to help our county clear the obstacles presented by COVID-19,” continued McLaughlin.
“To residents, we demonstrate that when times are good and success achieved by the county through effective management of the assets entrusted to us, that our people share in that good fortune.”
“Thanks to the four tax reductions, including the 10 percent reduction for 2022, the county will now have a property tax rate comparable to the county tax rate in 2002,” he said.
The county has been under the state tax cap since the tax cap was implemented over a decade ago, McLaughlin noted.
The property tax reduction comes as the county has made a major investment in improving county roads, with over 165 miles of roads paved. The county is now completing the Drive for 65, an effort to set a record by paving 65 miles in one year, breaking the record of 50 miles set in 2020.
“In working to pave and improve our county road system, we have set records. The county previously would pave maybe 20 miles of roads each year, including several miles each year of reoccurring road projects. In 2020, we paved a record 50 miles of roads, which was an accomplishment given the pandemic. This year, we are working to break that record, and doing so during a pandemic and in the aftermath of a heavy weather event this summer that wrecked several miles of roads that had been paved,” said McLaughlin.
McLaughlin also announced the county will be moving the Troy Area Senior Center to a new, more modern space in City Station in downtown Troy. McLaughlin also said the county will be reviewing possible replacements for senior centers in both Rensselaer, which has had a change in ownership, and Hoosick Falls, which is an older and inefficient facility.
“The 2022 budget continues to strengthen our services for seniors. Just prior to the presentation of this budget, we reached a tentative agreement for location of the new Troy Senior Center at City Station in downtown Troy. This resolves a significant issue with the center for our largest contingent of seniors. The new senior home will be safe, clean, accessible and modern and be welcomed by our seniors. We had promised our seniors a new home and that we remained committed to Troy, and we are glad to fulfill that promise,” said McLaughlin.
“It is time to renew our commitment to our seniors with a network of facilities that are also accessible, modern, safe and clean. It will be an added bonus in the case of Rensselaer and Hoosick Falls if we are able to own the properties and the buildings. Our study will also investigate whether there is a need for a sixth senior center in our county,” added McLaughlin.
McLaughlin credited employees for their response during the pandemic, and their dedication and commitment during some difficult months.
“Our employees provided outstanding service during the pandemic. We are fortunate to be served by dedicated men and women who rose to the challenge and provided a level of service that was needed during difficult times. I announced last week we would be utilizing some of the federal American Rescue Plan funds and county surplus to provide a one-time bonus to employees who served during the pandemic. We expect the money will be received by our employees by the end of this month,” said McLaughlin.
“Our recognition of our employees is deserved and needed. Recruiting of employees is growing more difficult throughout our region and the nation. We have recognized this fact as well by erasing the requirement for new employees to start at 15 percent less than grade rate. In one area of county government, employees started at 20 percent less than grade rate. A change was needed to remain competitive,” he added.
He also credited legislators with working cooperatively to move the county forward during the recent challenges.
“As we faced the challenges of the pandemic, our Rensselaer County team has repeatedly won the day, growing a surplus by over $60 million, improving important county services – in some cases, setting records for delivery of services – and making county government more efficient and responsive during an historic time of uncertainty and pressure. We have succeeded under trying times, and I thank members of this legislative body for your support and also recognize our great and dedicated county employees,” said McLaughlin.