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January 2015 May 2015 September 2015
February 2015 June 2015 October 2015
March 2015 July 2015 November 2015
April 2015 August 2015 December 2015

The following are highlights of the January 13, 2015 regular meeting of the Rensselaer County Legislature:

 Opposes Sewer Rent Increase – The Minority Office voted in opposition of a sewer rent increase for the Rensselaer County Sewer District No. 1. The increase will affect residents in Troy, Rensselaer, North Greenbush, Brunswick, Sand Lake and Schaghticoke. Sewer bills for many Rensselaer County homeowners will jump 17.5 percent for 2015. Properties served by metered municipal water system will have a county sewer rate of $3.35 per 1,000 gallons, with a minimum charge increasing from $39.50 per quarter to $46.40 per quarter and properties not served by a metered municipal water system from $201.84 per year per unit to $236.15 per year per unit.

 Introduced by the Minority Legislators - A Resolution Honoring Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools - The week of January 25th through January 31st has been designated as Catholic Schools Week. The theme for Catholic School’s Week 2015 is “Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.” It perfectly encapsulates what it means to attend and teach at a Catholic school, as it highlights the faith necessary to achieve a religious education, the knowledge that the students of Catholic schools gain on a daily basis, and the stewardship that is the backbone of the Catholic Church all over the world. There are six Catholic Schools in Rensselaer County, (5 elementary and 1 high school) serving 1400 students during the 2014-2015 school year.

Abandons Civil Service Position –Democratic Legislators voted against a resolution amending the 2015 Adopted Budget.  A part time civil service position in the County Attorney’s Office has been eliminated and a Confidential Assistant to the Office of the County Attorney was created, which will be an appointed position. We oppose the removal of civil service positions in the county and support the belief that employees should be hired based on merit, rather than political affiliation.

 Next Meeting - The Rensselaer County Legislature will hold its next meeting, Tuesday, February 10th at 6:00 PM in the Legislative Chambers located on the 3rd Floor of the Ned Pattison Government Center.

No Report for February

 The following are highlights of the March 10, 2015 regular meeting of the Rensselaer County Legislature:

 Reid Blocks Legislation - Minority Legislators filed a resolution calling upon Martin Reid to step down from his position as Chairman of the Rensselaer County Legislature, pending the outcome of any criminal investigation. The resolution failed in committee by a vote of 3-2 with Martin Reid, himself, casting the deciding vote. Reid has been under investigation by the State Department for misrepresenting his job status and improperly collecting unemployment benefits.

Transfers Savings into “Tax Stabilization Fund” - Through the due diligence of the Legislative Board, the Rensselaer County Auditor and the Environmental Management Board, a savings of $90,778 exists in the 2014 Legislative Budget. The savings will be transferred into the Tax Stabilization Fund, a dedicated fund for the protection of taxpayers and needed county services.

 Introduced Legislation - A Resolution Recognizing April 22, 2015 as Earth Day in Rensselaer County – Rensselaer County commits itself to undertaking programs and projects that enhance the community’s natural environment. Rensselaer County Legislators encourage all residents, businesses and institutions to join them in participating in one of the scheduled Earth Day Events planned throughout the county. 

 Next Meeting - The Rensselaer County Legislature will hold its next meeting, Tuesday, April 14th at 5:30 PM in the Legislative Chambers located on the 3rd Floor of the at the Ned Pattison Government Center, 1600 7th Avenue, Troy. Residents are welcome to contact us at our Legislative Office at 270-2890.

 The following are highlights of the April meeting of the Rensselaer County Legislature:

 Sponsored Legislation - Members of the Rensselaer County Legislature passed legislation this week that would direct revenue collected from the County’s Hotel Room Occupancy Tax to a dedicated Tourist Development Fund.

 “Creating a dedicated fund from existing revenues to promote tourism in Rensselaer County will attract tourists’ dollars here --- to help businesses and reduce the burden of our high property taxes. It will do so without raising taxes,” stated Legislator Len Welcome.  “Studies show that for every dollar invested in the promotion of Tourism in the Hudson Valley, the return on investment is seven dollars” added Welcome.

 In 1991, the Rensselaer County Legislature recognized the importance of tourism dollars and imposed a 3% tax added to the charges of overnight accommodations from travelers who stayed in local hotels. Currently, it is anticipated that the County’s Hotel Room Occupancy Tax will generate $475,000 in tax revenue for 2015. As it stands now, these tax dollars go directly to the county’s general fund to pay for daily operations. Neighboring counties, Albany, Schenectady and Saratoga, each dedicate a portion of their tax to tourism promotion, giving them a competitive advantage over us when attracting business and events.

 “We need to positively and aggressively promote tourism to increase our revenues and help off-set property taxes. Tourism is an identified economic engine that has basically remained untapped.” “In communities throughout the county, tourism provides unique economic opportunities and tourism dollars offer important financial benefits to the overall economy,” stated Minority Leader Peter Grimm.

 Local Law Passes – The Rensselaer County Legislature passed a local law allowing licensed retailers to sell sparklers and other low impact fireworks around July 4th and New Year’s Eve.

 The following are highlights of the May 12, 2015 regular meeting of the Rensselaer County Legislature:

 Microbead-Free Waters Act – In the interest of protecting the environment of Rensselaer County as well as New York State, the Rensselaer County Legislature passed legislation urging the adoption of the Microbead-Free Waters Act. Microbeads are a synthetic alternative ingredient to natural materials and are found in over one hundred widely available personal cosmetic products. Plastic microbeads are a pollutant that is known to collect bacteria and other contaminants and because of their tiny size are unable to be filtered out during the sewage treatment process, allowing them to be discharged into the Hudson River.

NY Safe Act – The Minority Office voted against a resolution supporting efforts to repeal the NY Safe Act. The NY Safe Act comes at time where gun violence is becoming more frequent on both national and local levels. The safeguards established within the Safe Act are invaluable to the safety of our citizens within our County and beyond.

 Distribution of Mortgage Tax Through the due diligence of the Legislative Board, the Rensselaer County Chief Fiscal Officer has been directed to distribute a total of $1,207,227.88 amongst the cities, towns, and villages in Rensselaer County. The sum of money represents the local share of mortgage tax collection for the period October 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015.

 In Memoriam of Richard Hanft – Democratic Legislators honored Richard Hanft; presenting his family with copies of the resolution that ended last month’s meeting in his honor. Mr. Hanft was actively involved in his community and associated with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services. Richard was a member of the Temple Beth El in Troy, as well as the Rensselaer County and New York Bar Association.

 Next Meeting - The Rensselaer County Legislature will hold its next meeting, Tuesday, June 9th at 5:30 PM in the Legislative Chambers located on the 3rd Floor of the at the Ned Pattison Government Center, 1600 7th Avenue, Troy. Residents are welcome to contact us at our Legislative Office at 270-2890.

 The following are highlights of the June 9, 2015 regular meeting of the Rensselaer County Legislature:

 Job Creation Through the Job Development Fund – Acting in the best interest of residents this Legislative Body is proud to announce that due to extraordinarily successful collection efforts, loan repayments to the Job Development Program revolving loan fund significantly exceeded receipts that were anticipated for collection in late 2014 and early 2015. The Job Development Program Loan Committee has received and will continue to receive applications for economic development loans in exchange for job creation in 2015 providing residents of this county with the support they need to succeed.

 Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center and Summer Program – The Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center was awarded a grant, covering the period of April 1, 2013 through March 31, 2016, for a total of $60,000.00 from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the purpose of hiring environmental educators. New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has forwarded a Project Agreement to the Rensselaer County Legislature amending the total of the grant award to $75,000.00, allowing for many to enjoy the natural beauty found in Rensselaer County and promoting the continued learning of our residents regarding environmental concerns and protecting our natural resources.

 Improvements to Van Rensselaer Manor – The Legislature authorized new purchases, agreements and repairs to improve the quality of life for the residents of the Van Rensselaer Manor. The approved modifications are the purchase and installation of video equipment to better protect the safety and well-being of residents, necessary repairs to an emergency generator, an agreement with Data Control Technology to implement a current, updated version of the Manor’s MealTracker software, and purchases for the final phase of an electronic medical record system which would allow physicians to electronically prescribe medications. 

Notice of a Public Hearing to Review Tentative HVCC Budget- The County Legislature will be holding a public hearing to review the Tentative Budget of Hudson Valley Community College for the Fiscal Year beginning September 1, 2015, and ending August 31, 2016 on Tuesday, July 14th at 5:30 PM in the Legislative Chambers located on the 3rd Floor of the Ned Pattison Government Center, 1600 7th Avenue, Troy.

Next Meeting- The Rensselaer County Legislature will hold its next meeting Tuesday, July 8th at 6:00 PM in the Legislative Chambers located on the 3rd Floor of the Ned Pattison Government Center, 1600 7th Avenue, Troy.