County Executive Dan McCoy presents his proposed 2018 Albany County budget in the Cahill Room at the county building at 112 State Street in Albany. // Photo courtesy of Albany County
ALBANY COUNTY — Albany County Executive Dan McCoy presented his 2018 Executive Budget on Tuesday, Oct. 10. The $678.6 million proposed budget will not raise the property tax rate or cut services, and is McCoy’s fifth budget that has remained under the state-mandated tax cap.
“I am pleased to present a budget that stays under the state tax cap for the fifth consecutive year despite the continued pressures of unfunded mandates and the real cuts we faced for 2018 in state aid for programs such as foster care,” said McCoy in his 2018 budget message.
Albany’s financial position has improved over the last decade, according to the budget document, but there have been some signs of economic stagnation over the past two years. While unemployment has remained low, job growth has been outpaced by unemployment claims, and sales tax has seen the first consecutive two quarter downturn since the “Great Recession.”
Job creation outside of government has remained strong for eight months and other factors remain favorable, but the executive office remains concerned about potential reductions in federal funding as Trump’s administration works to cut programs, as well as rising fuel and energy costs due the recent devastating storms and federal efforts to deregulate the industry.
The projected fund balance for 2018 is more than $60 million, which McCoy called “prudent and appropriate,” noting that the balance is intended to cover unexpected losses in funding, additional mandates or decreased sales tax revenues.
The proposed budget does not make any cuts to county programs or its workforce, and includes a two percent raise for non-union county employees. In addition, it would grant another $250,000 to the Albany County Land Bank, bringing its total investment in the program to $2 million. Property restorations made possible by the land bank have added more than $2.5 million in assessed value to the county’s tax rolls, according to the Office of the County Executive.
The proposed budget anticipates receiving $1.6 million in revenues from the Rivers Casino and Resort in Schenectady, and another $1.6 million from an increased tax levy. The tax rate will remain the same, due to the increase in full valuation of real property within the county.
The proposed budget now moves to the County Legislature, which will review it and potentially make additions and deletions over the next several weeks before voting on a final plan. For the first time this year, the legislature will livestream the two public hearings on the budget, allowing residents who can’t attend the hearings to follow them live on the internet. Also, the Legislature’s five budget review sessions will be videotaped and posted on the county website.
A tentative legislative timeline of the budget process:
Oct. 24: Public hearing on proposed budget, 7:15 p.m. in the Legislative Chambers at 16 Lodge Street in Albany.
Oct. 25: Audit & Finance Committee review of proposed revenues at 5:30 p.m. in the Legislature’s Caucus Room, room 730 at 112 State Street in Albany.
Oct. 26: Session 1 at 5:30 p.m. in the Legislature’s Caucus Room.
Nov. 1: Session 2 at 5:30 p.m. in the Legislature’s Caucus Room.
Nov. 2: Session 3 at 5:30 p.m. in the Legislature’s Caucus Room.
Nov. 8: Session 4 at 5:30 p.m. in the Legislature’s Caucus Room
Nov. 21: Public hearing on Legislature’s proposed additions/deletions to the budget in Legislative Chambers.
“I look forward in the days and weeks ahead to reviewing this proposed budget with members of the County Legislature who have been an important partner in the success we have achieved in stabilizing County finances and in putting into place sound budgetary practices, particularly with regards to the dramatic economic turnaround at our County Nursing Home,” said McCoy. “I would like to thank our Legislative leadership for working with my administration in our effort to keep Albany County moving forward on those commitments and on our mutual goal of improving the quality of life for all of our residents.”