Poughkeepsie…Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced today the 2010 proposed budget plan, still being formulated, will freeze the county property tax levy by cutting spending below 2009 levels and putting an increased focus on smaller government with fewer employees.
“For the 2009 budget, the County Legislature’s Democrat Majority shackled taxpayers with an 11% county property tax increase, the largest increase in 27 years,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “Stressed property taxpayers simply cannot afford another increase and my 2010 budget proposal cuts spending to freeze the county property tax levy.”
The 2010 Executive county budget proposal will realign and restructure how county government carries out its delivery of programs and services to residents. Spending will be cut across county government, with expenditures significantly reduced from broad operational areas. There will be no cost of living (COLA) salary increases included in Steinhaus’ budget proposal, except for the contractual obligation to one bargaining unit. “I had one clear message for our county departments when we began this budget process many months ago, ‘we must cut spending because we cannot raise the property tax levy’ for residents during these tough financial times. We remained focused on that goal throughout the budget process and we will deliver a budget freezing the property tax levy,” said Steinhaus.
Following the 38 positions deleted in 2009, as many as another 70 positions will be deleted from the 2010 budget proposal, primarily from vacant positions but also including some occupied positions. The 2010 budget proposal will reduce the employee count for county government to below its level in 1987, twenty-four years ago.
“Our county employees are extremely proud of the work they do,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “County government is faced with the hard truth that fiscal realities demand we will have to do less. There is simply not enough money for government to continue to provide the same level of programs and services as in the past.”
The financial burden of state mandates continues to crush county government finances. State imposed mandates continue to grow and County officials have no discretion with any of these state mandated programs or the imposed costs. State mandated payments will increase by more than $6 million in 2010. “Unfortunately, every new dollar county government must spend on state mandates is a dollar that has to be cut from some other important service residents receive,” said County Executive Steinhaus.
The County Executive’s proposed budget will be released by November 1st. The County Legislature is expected to review the budget throughout November and adopt the budget in early December.
“There is little doubt this budget proposal will have plenty of critics especially where there isn’t enough money for certain popular services,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “While it will be easy to naysay, critics must realize the only way to support the status quo for programs and services would be to raise county property taxes like the Legislature’s Democrat Party Majority did in 2009. The Democrats’ choice was to raise property taxes to solve financial problems in 2009, which I opposed. Property taxpayers cannot afford Democrats’ costly solution again for 2010.”