Schenectady County budget cuts taxes

At the Schenectady County Legislature's first 2010 budget hearing held Tuesday, Sept. 8, Democratic lawmakers proposed a 2.13 percent tax cut, however, detractors say such a move would only create a hole in the budget for next year by using federal stimulus funds as a temporary Band-Aid.

They've increased spending $9 million, and they've taken federal monies and then turned it around and reduced the tax rate, said Schenectady County Legislator Robert Farley, R-Glenville. "They've overestimated sales tax revenues, they've underestimated obligations of the county in a number of areas."

The proposed budget showed an increase of appropriations of $8.7 million and a decrease in the property tax levy of $1.4 million.

Kathleen Rooney, Schenectady County manager, said that while the budget is based on the assumption that the economy will improve, county officials are "cautiously optimistic," as the county anticipates a slight delay of impact on revenues.

"We are applying our Federal Stimulus revenue dollars as part of a bridge," said Rooney.

Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature said in a statement that she asked Rooney to propose a budget that reduces the tax burden on residents while maintaining the core services provided.

"The current economic and financial climate has been difficult on all of our county residents," said Savage.

Rooney said that the county has "significantly tried" to contain the growth of property taxes.

"Over the past five years this County Legislature, in working with myself and the department heads, has really focused on trying to contain the rate of property tax increases and have really focused on cost containment contract reduction," said Rooney. "Other counties within the Capital Region had an average of a 43 percent property tax levy increase from 2004 to 2009. Schenectady County, in comparison, went up 27 percent."

Under the budget proposal, the property tax levy for the county would decrease by 2.13 percent " or $6.18 per $1,000, making for a 3.95 percent decrease from last year, when the rate was $6.44 per $1,000.

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