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Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, November 3, 2011
By Saranac Hale Spencer
NEW SCOTLAND Making his third run for the county legislature, Herbert W. Reilly Jr., a Democrat, is uncontested for a seat representing part of the town of New Scotland, including the village of Voorheesville, and a small part of the town of Bethlehem. He will also be on the Independence Party line.
Reilly, 75, is an Albany native who owns the Reilly & Son Funeral Home in Voorheesville and Colonie. He has served as supervisor and sat on the town board in New Scotland.
Reilly doesn’t see the legislature reducing the share of county sales tax that it distributes to municipalities if towns don’t get that revenue, they will have to raise it through taxes, so citizens would end up paying in the end, he said.
The legislature discussed increasing the county sales tax by half of a percent last year, he said, but making the increase is a complex process, he said, explaining that if they began moving towards a quarter of a percent increase, it wouldn’t be completed until next summer. One encouraging aspect of the sales tax, Reilly said, is that about 60 percent of the money that comes in from the tax comes from people who live outside of Albany, but travel there to shop at Crossgates Mall and Colonie Center.
Of keeping the budget under the state’s new 2-percent tax-levy cap, Reilly said, “I don’t think we can.” The county won’t raise taxes “willie nilly,” he said.
He didn’t want to speculate on how far over the levy cap the budget could be.
On the issue of using surplus reserves to fill in the gap in the budget, Reilly said that the county’s reserves have dwindled to below $30 million and it must maintain some money there to pay vendors. “You’ve got to have reserves,” he said.
Reilly opposes cutting funds to the In-Home Care for the Elderly program, but said he couldn’t name programs that could be cut without looking in close detail at the budget.
Each department comes before the legislature before the budget is drafted and, Reilly said, they need to be listened to. If the head of a department can do without some employees, then those positions could be cut, he said.
Reilly would like to see the county build a new nursing home and cut down on the overhead cost of running it. He thinks a 250-bed facility with a 50-bed assisted-living unit would be ideal. “Economically, it would be the way to go,” he said.
Since a bill addressing hydraulic fracturing has been presented in the county legislature and is in the process of moving through the committees, Reilly said, he did not want to comment on the issue.
The committee that redrew the lines for the legislative districts held public hearings and took people’s comments into consideration, Reilly said, concluding, “I can’t fault them at all.”
As for reducing the size of the legislature, Reilly said that shrinking the number of legislators could mean that the county would have to hire people to work in staff positions, including secretarial work. Also, he said, in some counties, the legislators are paid significantly more than those in Albany County.