News Release

 

For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000
countyexec@co.dutchess.ny.us

For Immediate Release

May 6, 1999

 

County Executive Announces 1998 Year End Financial Report



Poughkeepsie
-- Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus announced Dutchess County's 1998 year end financial report has been forwarded to the Dutchess County Legislature by Finance Commissioner Rita Brannen. The report is required by law to be forwarded to the State Comptroller, County Comptroller Richard Noel and the Dutchess County Legislature. It includes the operating results and balance sheets of all funds and accounts groups. The statements included in the report are reviewed in the annual comprehensive audit of county finances conducted by an insdependent accounting firm whose report will be released later this year.

The report demonstrates a strengthening of Dutchess County's already sound financial position. 1998 revenues exceeded budget estimates by 2.5% and expenditures were kept at approximately 3.5% below budget. These factors combined to generate an operating surplus for the year of $8.3 million.

Of note are 1998 sales tax receipts which exceeded 1997 receipts by a mere 1.2% and fell short of the 1998 budget estimates which were developed in the Fall of 1997 by $4 million. This was due to major negative adjustments by New York State attributable to prior years.  Offsetting that loss, however, was the collection of $4 million over budget in property tax revenues due to an accelerated foreclosure process on tax delinquent properties and the extraordinary efforts of the Finance and Real Property Tax Departments in disposing of those foreclosed properties. Other key revenue items include $1.4 million in OTB revenues -- an increase of $655,000 over 1997 and $1 million in Hotel Tax proceeds -- $110,000 more than 1997 and reflective of the continued success of the county's tourism promotion strategies.

Federal and State Revenues exceeded budget by approximately $5 million due in large part to the receipt of unanticipated TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) transfers and increased reimbursement necessitated by skyrocketing mandated Medicaid costs.

On the expense side, salaries and employee benefits represent 38% of the county budget. In 1998, these costs totaled $94.3 million, representing total payroll savings of $2.1 million.

1998 operations brought the unappropriated General Fund balance to $19.1 million, an increase of $2.5 million over 1997, a level which is similar to that maintained in the middle of the decade, and within our desired goal of maintaining a balance of between 5 - 10% of appropriations. Dutchess County ended its fiscal year at a very favorable 22.6% of its Constitutional Tax Limit and 6.9% of its Constitutional Debt Limit.

1998 operating results reflect the continuing benefits Dutchess County has achieved through streamlining and organizational realignment, adherence to prudent fiscal policies, strong leadership and professional management. The following significant events which occurred in 1998 are highlighted in the report to the State Comptroller: the County closed its infirmary, saving $850,000 annually in net to county costs while assuring the well-being of the facility's residents; reduced future annual county subsidies to the Resource Recovery Agency by $1 million by supporting the refinancing of agency debt and its entering into new contracts for the disposal of ash and for plant operation; and prepared itself for the Y2K problem through a comprehensive five step program of inventory assessment, impact analysis, risk analysis, testing and contingency planning. In addition, the County successfully transitioned several mental hygiene services to the private sector allowing for the abolishment of 35 county positions in the 1999 budget while assuring the uninterrupted delivery of vital public service.

County Executive Steinhaus observed "our management initiatives have paid off -- the needs of the residents of Dutchess County are being met effectively and efficiently with a tax levy which is lower today than it was at the beginning of the decade".

The financial strength of the county is reflected in the enviable Aal bond rating from Moody's Investor Services. Improved liquidity, enhanced property tax collections, replenished fund balance, realistic expenditure control, efficient utilization of the workforce (which has been reduced by more than 150 positions since 1992) and prudent budgeting of 1999 sales tax receipts all have a positive impact on that rating. Also impacting the rating is the strength of the local economy as reflected by the creation of 8,000 new jobs via the county's comprehensive, coordinated economic development efforts.

Commented Steinhaus, "the 1998 financial report confirms that we achieved the results we set out to achieve last year and those results, together with the prudence displayed by both the executive and legislative branches in developing the 1999 budget, will enable the county to respond responsibly to future unknowns and to enter the year 2000 with a solid financial base".

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