County overrides tax cap for second time

Legislators put nursing home back into budget, hike taxes 7.6 percent

— After weeks of considering the budget, the Albany County Legislature approved a plan that overrides the state tax cap at a Monday, Dec. 3, meeting.

The $568 million budget imposes a 7.6 percent tax levy increase, which is down from the 8.9 percent proposed in County Executive Dan McCoy’s initial budget.

This is the second year in a row the county has exceeded the tax cap. A supermajority vote of 24 legislators was needed to pass the override, and 27 lawmakers supported the override, with 12 voting against it. Dissenters included Democrats Joseph O’Brien, Charles Dawson and Dennis Feeney and Republicans Deborah Busch, Brian Hogan and Peter Clouse.

Several legislators were adamant about overriding the cap in order to protect county services, like senior services and protective services. Democrat Tim Nichols said lawmakers “have to help provide these services” and added he is tired of continuously asking for “a little more help from municipalities.”

“Eventually, we’ll have nothing else to cut. Eventually, all we’re going to be is a tax revenue service to pay our unfunded mandates. That’s what county government will become. Unless we get real about our revenue,” Nichols said. “Pretty soon, we’re going to become a government that’s so small you can drown it in a bathtub.”

Democrat Chris Higgins voted against both the override and the budget, saying it is the “fifth budget in a row that Albany County has raised taxes.”

“Today, as I have done several times in the past, I will vote no on the tax cap override and no on the budget. Structural changes that I believe must be made … are not present in this document,” Higgins said.

Community college chargeback costs were also a point of concern with some legislators. Some had proposed having the county push the $10.1 million in community tuition costs on to cities, towns and villages as a last-minute budgeting maneuver. That didn’t make it into the final plan, and the county will reexamine sharing the costs.

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