There were more than a few wrinkled noses in Albany County last week when County Executive Michael Breslin dropped a 2012 budget plan that calls for a whopping 19.2 percent increase to the tax levy.
Not unlike the trillion-dollar bailouts in years past, that number is so large it’s almost difficult to grasp the significance of it. But it’s indicative of just how bad a situation Albany County government finds itself in.
The details of the plan are reported by Andrew Beam on page 28, but as Breslin tells it, it really comes down to this: The county’s out of money, the credit card’s maxed, the bills are due and the parents aren’t pleased.
We speak, of course, of state lawmakers and their new 2 percent property tax cap, the backdrop on which this drama will no doubt play out. Sixty percent of the 39-member County Legislature would have to pass this budget to override the cap.
But that’s almost a moot point when you’re talking about a 19 percent tax hike. Legislators are not exactly lining up to support this proposal, which would cost most homeowners hundreds more in county taxes next year.
And they really shouldn’t. The taxpayer should not be penalized for living in a county that has perpetually lived outside its means and outright refuses to assume the discomfort of fixing the situation.
Case in point: In 2011, Breslin’s budget proposed a whole array of cuts and moving forward with the selling of the county nursing home. Legislators lambasted the plan and in short order reinserted many of the cut programs.
Some lawmakers even took the opportunity to stand up in public and loudly call for a brand new nursing home, with no expense spared.
We expect those same legislators to pan Breslin’s 2012 plan in much the same manner, firing off rhetoric once used on behalf of county employees to stand up for the taxpayer.