Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus released the 2007 Executive Budget today that freezes the property tax rate and strictly limits spending growth at 2.6%, or 37% below the inflation rate of 4.1%. The Dutchess County government share of the typical property tax bill is estimated to be 14%.
“This Executive budget maintains the core services and programs vital to our county residents, and offers a few new promising initiatives – all while holding the County government tax rate flat,” County Executive Steinhaus said. “The best way to control taxes is to control spending, and that’s why we must continue to resist efforts to be all things to all people and avoid the county government becoming the funder of last resort.”
Appropriations will total $387.5 M for 2007. Major appropriations in the 2007 proposed budget include $37 million, or a $1.1 million increase for the state-mandated Medicaid program; $21 million, or a startling increase of almost 14% to the state-mandated Preschool Special Education and Early Intervention programs; $2.3 million for the state mandated court-ordered assigned counsel fees; $11.2 million in pension costs; nearly $20 million in employee health insurance costs; $4.3 million in net service fees, or county subsidy to the Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency for solid waste disposal services; and a 7% increase in utility costs.
The financial foundation of the Dutchess County budget continues to be threatened by escalating costs for operational and mandated activities.
“Dutchess County government simply cannot sustain the huge loss of revenue caused by the state sales tax exemption on clothing – not if we are to continue to provide the programs and services so important and necessary to our residents while controlling the fiscal burden on property taxpayers.” Steinhaus emphasized, “Given the unpleasant choice of the property tax rate going up, or ending the sales tax waiver, I rejected a higher property tax rate.”
Absent the return of the sales tax on clothing and the mandate mortgage tax, the additional $12 million needed to balance the budget would increase the property tax rate 14%. Steinhaus concluded, “The potential of a 14% increase in the property tax rate is unacceptable.”