Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced today his 2008 proposed budget plan, which will be released by November 1, will include a considerable tax rate decrease as well as a reduction to the county’s tax levy.
County Executive Steinhaus said, “As we have in the past, we continue to work diligently to keep spending in check. In 2007, the county spending change was held to half the rate of inflation. While there are still a few significant decisions that remain to be finalized for our 2008 budget, we will once again keep the budget lean with spending growth below the inflation rate while we continue to provide core services and programs vital to our county residents.”
Steinhaus continued, “Our successful economic development agenda has resulted in vibrant and sustained economic activity. Although all NY counties are faced with funding pressure from the exorbitant costs of state mandated services, we continue our tight fiscal restraint in discretionary spending. Thanks to our fiscal stewardship, we are able to reduce the property tax levy and again lower the county government tax rate.”
A handful of new critical positions have been added to the 2008 County budget to ensure public safety through Sheriff services and in particular child protective services to respond to the ever growing problem of domestic and child abuse. Overall, however, despite county government’s expanded mission and enhanced services, the 2008 budget will still have fewer positions than when County Executive Steinhaus took office in 1992 as a result of the County’s ongoing commitment to work with community partners and collaborators for the effective and efficient delivery of services. “We are able to keep taxpayer costs down thanks to our terrific County staff and our continued efforts to streamline county government by increasing innovation through technological advances, improving productivity and working with our community partners,” said Steinhaus.
Areas of the county budget in which spending is predicted to increase next year include many of the same higher costs families face: gasoline costs incurred for the Sheriff’s patrol and highway department trucks, as well as our increased investment for capital projects and infrastructure throughout the County including bridge and road improvements and continued enhancement of county park facilities. Also included in the 2008 budget are the costs of the recently settled union contract with the DCSEA Jail Correction Officers which has $1.7 million compounded impact on spending, covering 2007 and 2008 salary adjustments. In 2008, all three county government unions representing county employees have multi-year contract settlements in place.
“County government provides services critical to the quality of life we enjoy in Dutchess,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “In the coming days, I will announce several components of my 2008 budget including important services for our seniors, youth and families. I look forward to sharing our plans to continue to improve public safety, meet the needs of our returning overseas veterans and other important services.”
Although the county’s property tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value will decrease, the actual impact on an individual tax bill can vary from town to town based on local assessments and state equalization rates, both factors beyond the county’s control. Property taxes to fund the county government account for about 14% of the property taxes collected countywide, the remainder of which is comprised of school taxes, municipal (town, village or city) property taxes and special district taxes (i.e. fire).
The County Executive’s proposed budget will be released by November 1. The County Legislature will then review the budget throughout November and adopt the budget in early December.