Legislature adopts budget

Tax cap struck down, tax hike at 8 percent

— The Albany County Legislature voted to override Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2 percent tax cap and adopted a 2012 budget, both by votes of 29-10, at the Monday, Dec. 5, meeting.

The total county budget is $598 million with an 8 percent property tax increase, well below the 19.2 percent tax hike originally proposed by County Executive Mike Breslin. Total appropriations contained in the budget (what the county will actually spend) are $557 million.

“We worked hundreds of hours trying to figure out how to reduce that to a manageable number and without decimating the services that the county is responsible to provide,” said Shawn Morse, chair of the audit and finance committee.

According to Morse, an average homeowner in Cohoes will pay an extra $3 a month for a total of about $37 a year under the 8 percent and in Colonie, $4 a month for about $52 a year.

“While the percentage might seem high when you talk about the property tax cap we could not achieve this year, our 8 percent is equivalent to many places that had 2 percent in actual dollars,” said Morse.

Regardless of how large or small a homeowner’s property tax bill increases (the average Green Island homeowner will only dole out $1.81 more per month), Morse said he understands every penny counts.

“I don’t minimize $5 a month out of anybody’s pay because that’s a reduction in their household income [but] I think we can all at least feel we can provide much needed services at a very reasonable price,” said Morse.

There was concern from residents and legislators that essential services might be lost, but Morse said the budget will ensure all county services are saved, like the nursing home, dental care, mental health, though there may be some reductions in those services.

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