November 13, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Attached the response in full
DEMOCRATIC MINORITY RESPONSE TO THE PROPOSED 2021 COUNTY BUDGET
November 13, 2020
The Minority Office of the Legislature fully understands that the residents of Rensselaer County have had to face unprecedented fiscal challenges on a daily basis in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Many individuals, families and businesses have been greatly affected emotionally and financially.
The Minority Office realizes that in order to continue to provide programs and services to residents, it is imperative and incumbent upon the entire county lawmaking body to deliver a sound budget in an effort to avoid tax increases.
In respect to the 2021 budget, the Legislature has managed all fiscal responsibilities resulting in a budget that will not infer any additional burden on the taxpayers of Rensselaer County.
In addition to prudent efforts of the Legislature and county departments, this zero percent (0%) tax increase is possible due to a 2019/early 2020 boost in economic development, affording the county unprecedented sales tax revenues. These tax revenues have provided a healthy fund balance to be used during such unprecedented times.
Focusing on the county’s diversity of assets in agriculture, business, education, culture, history, technology, the arts, and natural resources must remain essential, by updating and implementing such plans as a means to generate future revenues rather than rely on property owners for these funds. Put simply, a broadened economic development plan and less reliance on the taxpayers should be an unceasing focus.
The Office of the Minority believes that additional efficiencies can always be created and our resources can be allocated in a manner that does not reduce services important to our residents. In short, there is always room for improvement. We, therefore, submit several recommendations to the County Executive and full Legislature to reduce expenditures and re-allocate funds, while keeping services largely intact.
The Minority supports the passing of the 2021 Rensselaer County Budget and offers the following changes be implemented:
- Request the Sheriff’s Office to define the revenue impact 287(g) has on the budget
- Provide additional Early Voting sites throughout the county
- Re-establish the budget code for counsel for the Minority Office, a vacant position
Moving forward, we submit the following recommendations to provide future savings in years to come:
- Continue to aggressively investigate and prosecute social service fraud
- Maintain a commitment to seek all possible grant opportunities
- Increase our concentration and motivation to explore and implement green initiatives
- Create a dedicated fund from a portion of the hotel tax revenue for the promotion of tourism in Rensselaer County as mandated in Resolution P/182/15
- Continue to commit to making the Shared Services Initiative a way of doing business and to make an effort to explore partnering with other municipalities and counties
- Explore the sale of county-owned property, especially vacant and unused properties
- Explore the potential of selling naming rights on county buildings and spaces
- Initiate an annual health insurance buyout incentive to reduce county health insurance costs
It is critical to continue to work in a bipartisan manner to advance the mission of governmental services in Rensselaer County. It is rewarding to see recommendations, made by the Minority Office in the past, implemented. These initiatives have increased efficiencies, reduced spending, and have had a positive impact. We will continue to promote fiscal responsibility, prudent growth and sustainability for years to come.