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BRIAN SCAVO FIGHTS OPPORTUNITY BUSTERS
Legislator Brian Scavo fights character assassination
may seem like a victory for Albany County residents who were faced with the possibility of a 19.2 percent property tax hike, but the budget with an 8 percent increase has forced legislators to override the governor's will. Innae Park has more.
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Despite strong opposition by some, it was a one-two punch for Albany County legislature Monday night as they first approved Local Law "L," overriding the Governor's two percent property tax cap and then approving a modified budget for the 2012 fiscal year.
To some, the budget was a step in the right direction.
Democrat Shawn Morse, who is also the chair of the Audit and Finance committee, said, “We're going to keep our services, seniors will have their nursing home, the hungry will be fed, the homeless will have a roof over their head and I think the middle class people in the county can be proud that we pay $2, $3 per month for those services now, but they know where that money is going and what it means to these people.”
The revised budget cuts the initial proposal of a 19.2 percent property tax hike by more than half. However, the just-adopted eight percent increase is still too much for some.
Democrat Brian Scavo voiced his opposition vehemently during the meeting.
“It means a massive tax increase for homeowners, the property owners, the seniors, the renters, the rent is going to go up,” he said. “This sends a bad signal, all across New York state. 'If Albany can do it, we can do it.'”
Other cuts include more than 100 jobs in the county: All funded, but currently vacant.
According to Morse, the committee worked with a number of departments to try to find cuts. The Sheriff’s Department will see at least 25 to 28 correction officers cut out of the budget. Morse says they will have the option of personal savings for some departments, where the administrator or the department will be given a certain amount to save annually, but where and how will be left up to the employees themselves.
Also outlined in the budget is $750,000 in cuts that the county executive will be expected to come up with and the county will be reducing overtime expenditures.
Nonetheless, even those who voted to adopt the budget say overriding the cap isn't ideal, but they'll get there eventually.
Albany County Legislature Chairman Daniel McCoy said, “You can't take 2,300 employees and all the services that we provide to Albany County residents and shut it off overnight.”
Morse added, “I assure you we'll work diligently starting the first of the year to make sure we get as low as possible next year and hopefully within the two percent.”
Another point of contention was a resolution that provided annual scheduled pay raises for certain officials, including the county executive, the sheriff and legislators themselves. It too passed, though not with as wide of a margin.
The legislature also passed Local Law “B,” which will create a new code of ethics for the county, including a new ethics commission.