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Schenectady County overrides tax cap

Public pleads against
7.5 percent tax hike, legislators blame mandates

Schenectady County Legislator Thomas Constantine, D-Niskayuna, voted against overriding the state imposed property tax cap. He was one of two Democratic legislators opposing the resolution.

Schenectady County Legislator Thomas Constantine, D-Niskayuna, voted against overriding the state imposed property tax cap. He was one of two Democratic legislators opposing the resolution. Photo by John Purcell.

— “We were hoping that we would see a bit more change in mandate relief,” Rooney said. “Unfortunately, we have just not seen that mandate relief that we have all hoped for.”

Rooney said the county couldn’t weather another years of mandated costs continuing to rise without raising taxes for the first time in three years.

“We have done everything we can to absorb those (costs) and to make changes,” she said, “but the cumulative affect of the constant increase in the mandates has really caused us now to have to take a different tact.”

Buhrmaster said there are “nonessential” jobs the county could afford previously, but now must look to eliminate.

“Clearly, the atmosphere out there is we can’t increase taxes,” he said. “We need some hard decisions and some tough cuts.”

A county resident with a home assessed at $100,000 could expect an increase of $47 on their tax bill, and a $150,000 assessed home would be taxed an extra $71.

Rooney said county taxes account for around 16 to 20 of a residents overall tax bill depending the municipality.

Residents demand tax cap remain

Residents provided their input on the proposal to override the tax cap during a public hearing on Friday, Sept. 28, and speakers opposed the measure by a margin of around 2-1.

The Chamber of Schenectady County President Charles Steiner said exceeding the tax cap would be bad for existing business and attracting new development.

“Please do not let the short-term solution of raising property taxes damage the long-term redevelopment efforts we have all worked so hard to accomplish,” Steiner said.

Though businesses are starting to recover, Steiner said they are not “out of the woods yet” and very challenging times are still ahead.

Pointing to county’s unemployment rate of more than 8 percent, Steiner said it is double the rate seen five years ago. New York State holds an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, according to data from the state Department of Labor.

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