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Rensselaer County Executive proposes to lower property taxes by 10 percent in budget plan

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin
WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas

The proposed Rensselaer County budget comes with a large tax decrease.

County Executive Steve McLaughlin proposed a nearly $362 million spending plan for 2022 on Thursday. The Republican, who is running for a second four-year term next month, is proposing a 10 percent reduction in property taxes.

McLaughlin said “We've made county government more efficient, we've grown our surplus from $20 million to over $80 million. In four years. We've reduced recurring costs for energy, areas of purchasing, insurance, and personnel and we've created savings for the people. We've seen growth, including growth of our property value and our sales tax. We've seen historic job creation with Amazon, Regeneron, retail outlets in our large town and small businesses in towns and cities. Because of this growth, more Rensselaer county families can stay here and not be forced to leave the area for states in the west or the south. The county has wisely utilized our fund balance, which is an historic level to benefit our residents. With some funds helping in the improvement of county roads. A relatively small amount from the surplus will be used to provide some of the 10% property tax rate reduction, because the fact is, it is the people's money.”

McLaughlin says for a property valued at $150,000 full market value – depending on the municipality with equalization – a property taxpayer would save between $77 and $91 in 2022, representing a countywide average savings of $84.

"Sales tax revenues have exceeded our expectations. And we expect continued growth during 2022.” McLaughlin says the 2021 budgeted anticipated $88 million, but Rensselaer County took in $96 million.

“Even during the pandemic, sales tax has been very strong in this county. Mortgage tax also performed really well which is good news for our partners, our partners at the local level as we share that revenue with them. We expect mortgage taxes to again be healthy during 2022, which is further good news,” said McLaughlin.

The budget includes funding for senior centers in the county: “We reached a tentative agreement for location of the new Troy Senior Center at City station, right across the street, in downtown Troy. This resolves a significant issue with the senior center for our largest contingent of seniors. The new Senior Center will be safe, clean, accessible and modern and will be welcomed by our seniors not only here in Troy, but in the surrounding towns as well. We're going to make this a state of the art beautiful Senior Center. We promised our seniors a new home and we're we remain committed to Troy and we're great glad to be fulfilling that promise to them.”

Democratic Rensselaer County Legislature Minority Leader Peter Grimm says he is "very pleased" with the proposed budget. “Everyone should be happy to hear about tax decrease. I think it's a great reflection about the hard work of county employees and residents of Rensselear County. We've seen record sales tax revenue in the past couple of years, particularly in the North Greenbush quarter and the city of Troy. And also with the boom in housing sales, the mortgage tax has also been something that has contributed to this. We just hope we can keep the momentum going but are looking forward to more of the same in coming years.”

McLaughlin said "The story of this budget is not just the 10% property tax rate reduction proposed for 22 and the fourth consecutive property tax rate reduction in four years. This is about our county seeing revenues accelerate, even in 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.”

McLaughlin also noted the county has paved over 165 miles of the county road system.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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