Editorial: County budget: new low tax, same old story

This year, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has presented a fiscal plan in his tentative budget that breaks with recent convention and proposes a reasonable bump to the property tax levy.

Coming in at a modest 1.6 percent hike, the tentative budget bears little resemblance to what McCoy rolled out last year, which included an 8.9 percent tax hike. McCoy’s predecessor, Michael Breslin, pitched a 2012 budget that included a whopping 19.2 percent increase in the tax levy.

So for homeowners in Albany County, news of a 2014 proposal that comes in under the tax cap should come as welcomed relief.

The problem is, this budget comes in low for much the same reason these previous plans came in high. McCoy, like Breslin before him, continues to use the budget as a playing piece in a game of brinkmanship with the County Legislature over the Albany County Nursing Home. Only instead of making a scene by pitching an enormous tax hike, he’s proposing to cut funding off mid-year. It might not make as many waves today, but the aim is just the same.

If history is any indicator, the 2014 adopted Albany County budget will be modified heavily by the legislature. And when we get down to brass tacks, nursing home ultimatums have simply never worked. When neither side can compromise, the status quo is gaveled through, and the money keeps flowing.

We would like to be surprised come next summer, and be reporting on a successful conclusion to years of bickering about this issue. But when the tactics don’t change, we don’t have much hope for the outcome, either.

McCoy is arguably doing his part by being aggressive with the budget. Now it’s the legislature’s turn to get down to business and make that spending plan work.

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