Albany County legislators have approved County Executive Dan McCoy's $711 million budget.
County legislators on both sides of the aisle hailed the 2019 spending plan, Republicans calling it “a model of bipartisanship and transparency.” Deputy Minority Leader Paul Burgdorf says the new budget, carrying a tax rate of $3.56 per $1,000 of assessed value, is "solid." "County Executive McCoy proposed what was basically a hold-the-line budget in terms of the tax rate. There was not going to be a tax increase. There was going to be a very, very minor tax reduction. The legislature, through seven budget hearings and a number of work sessions, identified a number of areas where we believed that the sales tax revenues were low, and some areas where we thought we could cut some expenses as well. We took those changes to the County Executive and negotiated a budget which would be agreed to, which would not be vetoed, and at the end of the day it'll be about a 4.3 percent real property tax reduction in Albany County."
The budget cuts the tax levy 1.5 percent, staying under the state cap. Democratic Legislator Doug Bullock of the 7th district says he's pleased because it represents a surplus. "We're able to fund for the first time in a long time, a tax break of a total of about $1.4 million to property tax, and the break isn't a substantial amount but it is a tax break for working people. And I like that, but we also have two revenue sources that are the source of that tax break, and that's the increase in sales tax revenue of $6 million over the last year of 2018, and an increase in detainees revenue from the Albany County Jail. We have about 200 immigrants in the Albany County Jail and that fund is coming through Homeland Security, it is a revenue source and one of the biggest sources of the budget."
Burgdorf says McCoy is doing a good job as economic steward of the county. "When he took office there was about $20 million in the reserve fund. With this budget we'll now go over $60 million in the reserve funds, so we have, to a certain degree, insulated ourselves from any downturns in the economy."
Bullock suggests optimism generated by the passage of the budget is good for the county. "We're also rebuilding the Albany County Nursing Home to make it into a modern full-scale facility, with the sheriff's offices in the nursing home when it's completed. And you know we've allocated money for the nursing home out of this budget, and I think that's one of the better things.”
Bullock adds he and other legislators still want to see the Board of Elections move into a county-owned building, whether it's to the DMV building in the city of Albany's South End or someplace else.
Legislators and the county executive are up for reelection in 2019.