Albany County is running out of money and its government is “fractured” but County Executive Dan McCoy in his first State of the County address said he had plans to “provide the leadership necessary” to make it healthy again.
“I need the cooperation of the leaders of all 19 municipalities, all 39 members of the county legislature and most importantly, you, my fellow citizens,” said McCoy in his Monday, March 5, speech.
McCoy said he was committed to finding a way for the county to tighten its belt while maintaining core services. Among the biggest hurdles blocking that goal are unfunded mandates, he said, but it’s hoped relief is on the horizon.
“We have received some good news on the state level with the Medicaid redesign team appointed by Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo calling for a state cap on expenditures. This is a step in the right direction and limits growth for 2013 that we can build into our next budget,” said McCoy.
This year’s county budget sits at about $560 million and holds an 8.7 percent property tax increase. McCoy said Medicaid costs make up about $63 million, or 77.2 percent of the tax levy, which works out to be a year-to-year growth of about $1.5 million. Cuomo’s Medicaid cap would limit that growth to $1 million.
Pension costs and welfare are also big-ticket issues affecting the county’s ability to operate within a leaner budget, said McCoy.
“(Pension costs) add up to $23 million or 14.3 percent of the tax levy,” said McCoy. “Public assistance accounts for 10 percent of the tax levy, and that’s for temporary assistance and safety net with early intervention and pre-school education, adding up to 8 percent of the tax levy. Our ‘I owe yous’ are adding up.”
McCoy addressed the “elephant in the room,” the Albany County Nursing Home, and laid out four choices for the future of that facility.