Poughkeepsie…Finding ways to reducing energy usage and save on fuel costs is one of the hottest topics in the media today. “Making Your Home Winter Ready” was the headline in a local newspaper just this past Sunday. Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus presented an alternate energy proposal to the Dutchess County Legislature to help Dutchess County Government make its building and facilities more energy efficient this past March. Unfortunately, while homeowners and businesses across the country have taken action to prepare their homes for the winter heating season and have found ways to reduce their energy usage, the Democrat majority in the County Legislature has chosen to block alternate energy options that would save taxpayer money.
The County Executive said, “Six months ago, I sent the Legislature a proposal to save fossil fuel and save tax dollars by building a geothermal alternate energy system. Instead of getting the Democrats’ quick action and support, my proposal has been buried by Legislative Democrats with no commitment to saving tax dollars and burning less fossil fuel.”
The geothermal system would provide heating and cooling from the ground to serve the county government’s Highway Operations and Engineering Headquarters located on Rt. 44 in the Town of Poughkeepsie. Use of alternative energy would save taxpayers a projected $33,000 in fuel costs annually, with this savings only anticipated to grow as energy costs rise.
“Taxpayers should be able to count on the Democrat leadership of the County Legislature to grab an opportunity to save fossil fuel, but instead Dutchess Democrats are unwilling to match their empty environmental rhetoric with real votes,” Steinhaus said.
“Since my proposal for an alternate energy system was sent to the County Legislature in March ---- 6 months have come and gone. We are now in October, the 7th month.”
The County Executive added, “Another main element of our Buildings and Facilities proposed upgrade is for a comprehensive Alternate Energy Options Study for other county buildings. But just like the geothermal project, this initiative languishes in the Legislature with no pledge of support from the Democrat leadership.”
The proposal incorporates various elements of reconstruction and upgrades to County buildings and facilities. These necessary facility infrastructure improvements and repairs need to move forward in order to avoid incurring additional taxpayer expense down the road, as construction and material costs have been increasing up to 18% on an annual basis.
The buildings and facilities proposal encompasses several critical projects. As part of the administration’s continued policy of fiscal restraint, many of these projects have been either handled in-house for as long as possible or the start of the projects has been pushed out as far as feasible. However, these projects can no longer be delayed without incurring substantial new cost to taxpayers. Steinhaus said, “As the Democrats continue to stall these projects, it will have enormous ripple effects for county taxpayers who will face the burden of much higher costs and lost ecological benefits.”
County Executive Steinhaus noted, “Just like our own homes, taxpayers understand county facilities require proper maintenance, Roof, mechanical and other repairs cannot be ignored in our home, nor can the County ignore necessary facility repairs without costing more tax dollars later on,” Steinhaus continued.
Project elements, all of which face annual cost increases for material and labor from 12 to 18%, also affected by the bond include:
- Emergency Generators at the County Office Building and Dept of Mental Hygiene facility - Last summer’s power outage demonstrated the necessity of these generators. The County Office Building and the Mental Hygiene Building are two of the most populated facilities and prolonged outages could require shutting down county government services important to residents.
- HVAC Improvements are required at DSS and Family Court buildings - The units are long past their anticipated lifespan, thanks to ongoing in-house repair and maintenance.
- General Building Repairs - Repairs are necessary at the 60 Market Street building, the LOOP bus facility and the heavily used Beacon Center.
All of these buildings are frequented by county residents and are the daily workplaces for hundreds of county employees, therefore it is critical that they are repaired and maintained, so programs and services provided to residents are not interrupted.
GOP efforts in the County Legislature to push forward with the buildings and facilities proposal have also been defeated by the Democrat majority.