Fresh off his State of the County address, Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin is looking forward to 2019.
McLaughlin spoke in Troy at the Rensselaer County Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual breakfast with the county executive. The Republican says he’s had an "outstanding" first year in office. "I would put our success up against really any county. I think we did good. We had a, you know we certainly save a few million dollars for taxpayers just by revamping our purchasing, changing up our retiree health care, which not only save the county half a million, it save our retirees about 40 to 45 percent on their monthly premium and it kept their coverage the same, so that was a real home run for everybody. We had an early settlement of a contract with our biggest labor union. That I don't think has been done in decades around here, where we got it settled before the existing contract expired. That's fair not only to the workers but to the county taxpayer. We had unanimous passage of our budget. Our reserves are up considerably and just as important as any of that we had, and maybe more so in some regard, we had a bond rating upgrade from Moody's Investor Services, so we're at a really high level, we're AA3, we got upgraded from A1 to AA3, so that's a significant achievement."
McLaughlin notes that in line with the budget, Rensselaer County begins 2019 with no property tax hike. There's also the prospect of 800 new jobs coming to the town of Schodack with the construction of a new million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center, currently stalled by a lawsuit challenging the town's July 2nd approval greenlighting the $100 million project. "Looking ahead, certainly pushing hard to get Amazon underway, and we're waiting on the judge to make a decision on the Article 78, we think that's gonna be favorable, and that Amazon will be moving forward pretty quickly. Regeneron continues to be great down in the East Greenbush area, expanding and growing. Other things that are important: we're looking at expanding our technological capabilities here inside the county. It's really we're as up to date as we can be on technology. That's not the cheapest undertaking in the world but it's gotta be done. We're looking for our seniors at respite care, which is really sort of adult day care. We're looking into that, we're beginning to research that. In fact we just hired somebody to begin to really heavily research how we can bring that into fruition so that seniors that are aging in place in their homes have a place to go during the day, not only for socialization, and also for those seniors that are living, you know their kids or their children are kinda their caregivers, at this point it gives those caregivers a break for a few hours a day. So I think that's important on the social services side of things.”
McLaughlin also expects in the months to come there will be a new training tower in place for the county's volunteer firefighters. He says he's starting the New Year hopeful, optimistic and blessed, crediting the "up" economy and increased sales tax revenue with contributing to the county's financial health.