Poughkeepsie…Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced today his 2009 proposed budget plan, which will be released by November 1, will cut the county property tax levy by cutting spending for 2009 below 2008 levels.
County Executive Steinhaus said, “Because I understand the higher costs Dutchess County families are facing at the grocery store, at the gas pump and in their home heating bills, that is why I could not in good conscience propose a budget that demanded a property tax increase.”
“Families have had to re-examine their household budgets, figure out where they could cut costs and really stretch their dollars further, and we have done the same thing in county government,” Steinhaus continued.
“Holding the line on taxes and spending is a difficult challenge because county government is faced with many of the same cost increases that families across the county are facing; plus we are further challenged by declining revenue streams needed to pay for county services,” said the County Executive.
The serious economic downturn seen nationwide has had a negative impact on major revenue sources including sales tax and mortgage tax revenue. Both of these revenue sources have been down throughout 2008 and are not anticipated to rebound in 2009.
The 2009 Executive county budget will reflect increased spending in areas related to energy costs; including gasoline for the large fleet of Sheriff vehicles and highway equipment as well as heating fuel for county facilities. In addition, the County is facing increased expenses from reduced state aid for state imposed mandates and faces additional uncertainty for further state aid cuts when Albany lawmakers reconvene on November 18th for another emergency cost cutting session to address the state’s fiscal problems.
The 2009 county budget focuses spending on programs and services that fulfill the core mission of Dutchess County government.
“Rapidly rising prices and declining revenues have made this budget process the most challenging of my seventeen year tenure as County Executive,” said Steinhaus. “Throughout the three months of budget development, we had to take, and will continue to take, an unprecedented approach to the fiscal challenges we are facing. And by November 1st, we will announce a budget that focuses on the delivery of core programs and services of Dutchess County government, while ensuring property taxpayers are not being asked to shoulder more expense,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.
The property tax rate will be frozen at the 2008 level of $2.29 per $1,000. Although the county’s property tax rate per $1,000 of assessed property value will remain flat, 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 comprise only about 13% of the property taxes collected countywide, the remainder of which is 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.