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Slight tax cut possible for residents

Savage announces proposed 2011 Schenectady County budget

Susan Savage, D-Niskayuna, chairwoman of the Schenectady County Legislature, announced on Monday, Sept. 13, the proposed county budget for 2011, which includes a small tax break.

I'm pleased to announce that the proposed county budget will include a 0.3 percent property tax cut for Schenectady County taxpayers, which is the fourth property tax cut in six years, said Savage. "The current economic and financial climate has been difficult on all of our county residents, but despite these challenges we have found solutions which will help bring property tax relief for County taxpayers."

Savage cited being able to control spending and creating an economic development program, which developed 3,500 jobs and $400 million of new investment in the County, for the minor tax decrease.

Through the state's retirement incentive, the county plans to eliminate 22 positions, which is estimated to save $7.1 million. Also, cutting employee health-care costs through Medicare Advantage Plans and a Canadian Drug Purchasing Program is estimated to save $8 million. Some other efforts Savage noted were weeding out Medicare fraud abuse, reducing the county vehicle fleet and instituting strict hiring and purchasing controls.

"We've had a lot of economic stresses and increased costs," said Savage. "State mandates continue to be a very big problem for Schenectady County and for all counties in New York State. Instead of just throwing our hands up and saying there are too many stresses on counties, we've been able to find real solutions."

Some of the state mandates out of the county's control are increased costs for pensions and Medicaid costs. The increased pension costs for 2011 are $2.8 million and Medicaid are $837,000, said Savage.

Savage said New York is the only state in the country where property taxpayers bear the cost of Medicaid. Homeowners in the state pay 25 percent of Medicaid costs, according to Savage.

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