Poughkeepsie…In a comprehensive report issued today, Dutchess County Budget Director Valerie Sommerville provided Dutchess County Legislators with their tenth update on the County’s current fiscal status to supplement the nine reports previously provided. In the report, Ms. Sommerville cautioned that the impact of the state budget cuts, current economic conditions and declining revenues will continue to challenge county government in 2008 and into 2009.
“Thanks to the careful and deliberate fiscal stewardship of County Executive Steinhaus, we had a solid fund balance at the end of 2007 which will help to offset some of the negative impact from declining revenue, state budget cuts and overall economic strain,” said Ms. Sommerville. “However, as anyone who has followed the news can tell you, we anticipate these negative trends to have a multi-year effect. We must continue to be vigilant in our efforts to control expenses and maintain a durable fund balance, so that we can weather the next few years successfully.”
The economic downturn seen nationwide has had a negative impact on the county’s major revenue sources including:
- Sales tax revenue remains down. Year-to-date receipts show a decline of nearly $2 million or 2.6% compared to last year at this time.
- Mortgage tax revenue is down. Receipts are down $1.4 million or 29% compared to budget estimates.
- Due to state budget cost shifts, county government faces an estimated loss of $5 to $6 million in state aid over a two year cycle.
Just like families across the nation, Dutchess County Government has not been immune to rapidly rising expenses. Gasoline costs have skyrocketed over the past year, requiring additional appropriations. Likewise, heating fuel oil costs have increased dramatically and there is concern about the additional cost to heat county buildings this winter. State imposed mandates also remain a dominant and growing portion of the county budget. The state will once again require a 3% increase in 2009 to the $39.5 million that is currently budgeted for the county’s share of Medicaid costs. State mandated costs for Preschool Special Education and Early Intervention Programs are projected to be nearly $21 million this year. The County Court recently needed an additional $75,000 to fund state mandated assigned legal counsel costs.
The administration has been proactive since the beginning of the year in its efforts to control costs and cut back spending in order to counter these fiscal challenges. County Executive Steinhaus has restricted operational expenditures in several areas to minimize adverse impacts to Dutchess County taxpayers. Positions which became vacant have been held open. Travel and training expenditures, as well equipment purchases, have been reduced or eliminated. “Just as local families have with their own household budgets, we have tightened our belt to control costs; while still providing the core programs and services residents expect from county government,” said County Executive Steinhaus.
~ Read the memo to Dutchess County Legislators from Dutchess County Budget Director Valerie Sommerville regarding the Update on County's Fiscal Condition (.pdf).