Home Search County Government Municipalities Business Schools Tourism Community Elected Officials
   Dutchess County Seal                                2001 Budget Message

November 1, 2000

Bradford Kendall, Chairman, Dutchess County Legislature
Members, Dutchess County Legislature

Dear Chairman Kendall and Members of the Legislature:

I am pleased to forward to you today the Year 2001 Dutchess County Executive Budget. This plan includes a 1.3 percent reduction in the property tax levy, which when coupled with a growing tax base, results in an overall decrease of 4.7% in the average amount to be paid by county taxpayers. This is our sixth property tax cut budget out of nine budgets. I am pleased that we are once again in a position to reduce the property tax burden on our residents and to continue to maintain a lower tax levy today than at the beginning of the last decade. Additionally, the county tax levy continues to represent only a small portion of our residents’ total property tax bill--13.5% in 2001. The amount of money needed to be raised by the property tax levy represents only 18% of the amount needed to support our service delivery systems.

Pie Chart - Service Area As Percent of Total 2001 Budget

 

The $283.3 million plan before you preserves and enhances the core services we provide our residents and includes several exciting initiatives. It also preserves our policies of spending control, our ongoing commitment to re-engineering government to meet the needs of our residents more efficiently and effectively with a county government workforce which is smaller today than in 1987, and our success in building public/private partnerships to ensure excellence in public policy development and service delivery programs.

Go to top of page

The total county budget is proposed to increase $14.3 million or 5.3% in 2001. To put the increase in perspective, in the forty years preceding the Steinhaus administration, annual growth in appropriations was below 5.3%, only six times!! Significantly, in only the past nine years, we have kept appropriation growth below 5.3%---six times!! This budget, as are the budgets of every other county in New York State, is driven by mandates from Washington and Albany. I often hear business leaders bemoan the intrusiveness of government regulation and the financial burden that government mandates create. County leaders from across our State share the sentiment. Improvement under the leadership of Governor Pataki notwithstanding, New York counties remain heavily burdened by mandates "from above." To a large extent, it is those federal and state mandates which fuel the growth in our 2001 Budget. Also contributing to the increase in appropriations are inflation, particularly the staggering increase in energy costs. Also notable are increases for payroll and employee benefits costs; insurance and debt service. Offsetting those pressures, however, thanks to our successful economic development policies and strategies, sales tax receipts (barring any unforeseen adjustments by the state as were experienced previously) are projected to remain strong in 2001. The many other sources of non-property tax revenue which help support county services are also projected to remain strong. In total, non-property tax revenues are projected to increase $15.4 million or 7.3%.

Pie Chart - Revenue Source As Percent of Total 2001 Budget

 

Go to top of page

Particularly noteworthy is the turnaround we have witnessed in true value assessments. Rateables began a downward slide in 1994 following years of significant growth in the 1980's. In 2001, however, that trend is reversing and we look forward to an increase in true value assessments of seven percent.

There are many reasons Dutchess County residents have enjoyed enhanced services and lower county taxes. We have re-engineered our government to be more effective and efficient, we have reduced our workforce while strengthening service delivery, we have collaborated with the business community and not-for-profit service providers, we have focused on economic development, and the list goes on. Key to our success, however, is that we have kept our eye on the ball. We have remained focused on our core mission, we have not strayed into the realm of services rightly provided by other levels of government. My 2001 Budget continues that tradition.

Graph - True Value Assessments, 1992-2001

Go to top of page

CRIMINAL JUSTICE & LAW ENFORCEMENT

Criminal justice is one of the core responsibilities of county government and while I am County Executive will always be a top priority of the County’s work plan. Protecting our quality of life and safety for our citizens is of paramount importance to our future.

My 2001 Executive Budget includes $635,000 in support of several criminal justice system initiatives recommended by the Dutchess County Criminal Justice Council (CJC). The focus of the initiatives for next year is to enhance victims’ assistance and other programs which have shown positive results. The recommendations include:

  • Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART) Program --- The Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office advises that reported incidents of domestic violence have increased 45% from 1995 to 2000. DART is a collaborative effort of the Poughkeepsie City Court, law enforcement, Probation, the District Attorney’s office, a local advocacy agency, and the batterer’s intervention program designed to provide an aggressive response to domestic violence. The proposed Executive Budget provides additional funding to expand DART beyond the City of Poughkeepsie where it was launched by District Attorney Grady and I as a pilot effort in 1998. More than 40% of reported domestic violence incidents occur in the City of Poughkeepsie. With the inclusion of the City of Beacon and the Town of Poughkeepsie 75% of all county-wide reported domestic violence incidents will be covered. The DART project supports early intervention and prevention to help prevent future violence; increases support to the victim through immediate advocacy, increased services and increased victim safety; increases offender accountability through improved monitoring; and enhances coordinated community response. So far this year, over 212 victims have received services through the DART program. This enhanced DART proposal represents an additional county commitment of $123,000 for a total DART investment of $275,000.

    Go to top of page

     

  • Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program --- National statistics indicate that only 30% of sexual assault victims seeking medical/crisis intervention are willing to report the assault to law enforcement. In response, the Dutchess County SAFE program was established in 1997 to bring together a team of professionals including forensic medical professionals, traditional medical professionals and hospitals, police agencies, victims’ services and the District Attorney to improve the quality of evidence available in sexual assault cases. The results have been dramatic, allaying fears and providing confidence to victims that the legal process works to protect them and hold the offender accountable. In Dutchess, approximately 80% of those involved with the SAFE program have reported the sexual assault to law enforcement authorities and the Dutchess County conviction rate is four times greater than the national conviction rate. In order to increase prosecutions, community safety, number of under-served victims of crime and cost effectiveness of current programming, the Enhanced SAFE Project will offer 24 hour upgraded services to sexual assault victims county wide, and will broaden its reach to include domestic violence victims, elder abuse, child abuse, homicide, and DWI’s. A $100,000 investment will enable the Dutchess County Health Department, through the recruitment and forensic training of existing nursing personnel, to become more active partners, enabling better coordination with existing public health programming and improved forensic coverage.
     

  • Crime Victims Program --- The Crime Victims Program has been helping victims in Dutchess County for many years. Approximately 86% of crime victims it serves are females and 19% are under the age of 18. The program provides services to victims of all crimes and is available to any victim or their family members living, working or attending school in Dutchess County. Direct services may include 24 hour intervention and emotional support; counseling services for primary and secondary victims at no charge; financial, transportation and child care support and assistance; and legal, medical, employment and social services advocacy. The additional allocation proposed from Dutchess County of $44,000 together with the present allocation of $59,000 helps leverage additional non-county funds to increase the program’s accessibility and expand its reach to victims of crime in the eastern, northern, and southern regions of the county. For the first time, bi-lingual services will be provided to assist non-English speaking crime victims.

    Go to top of page


  • Specialized Victim’s Unit --- A new probation officer is proposed to work with a specialized victims unit, a collaborative effort between the Dutchess County Office of Probation and Community Corrections and the Crime Victims program. The team will ensure that orders and conditions of probation are consistent with victim safety and offender accountability. Fifty percent of the cost of the probation officer will be provided through a grant by the New York State Crime Victims Board.
     

  • Jail Transition Program --- This initiative will provide $40,000 to enhance the Jail Transitions Program. The Jail Transitions program is an innovative in-jail program developed and designed to significantly impact recidivism. Re-arrested criminals are a major cause of overcrowding in our jail. My 2001 budget will provide funding for an additional part-time Community Transition Coordinator and Program Assistant. There is a significant need to provide transitional services that encompass life skills, education, substance/alcohol treatment, conflict resolution, anger management and job skills to inmates. The goal of the program is to link inmates with services and then provide them with contact people while they are still incarcerated. Upon release the Transitions Coordinator works to ensure there are follow-up contacts and activities to ease the transition from jail into the community. This funding will expand programming to provide inmates with job training and readiness skills while they are incarcerated and job mentoring following their release.
     

  • Jail Based Case Management --- A total of $30,000 is provided to support the jail based mental hygiene program through the addition of an Activity Therapy Aide who will assist inmates in making the transition from jail by linking them with appropriate community services.
     

    Go to top of page


  • Administration and Program Evaluation ---$161,000 is budgeted to provide administrative support for the CJC and to develop and implement program evaluation methodologies to assess the cost effectiveness of criminal justice programming to support future decision making.
     

The Dutchess County Criminal Justice Council was established by the Legislature at my suggestion in 1993. The council was created as a permanent, independent body to collaborate and advise both the County Executive and the Legislature on policy formation and solutions, and to provide a managed response to all critical issues involving the criminal justice system. The membership of the Dutchess County CJC is made up of every element of the criminal justice system. It includes law enforcement and corrections, the judiciary, District Attorney, Youth Bureau, Departments of Mental Hygiene, Social Services, Planning and Development, various community organizations, educational institutions and county residents.

I have placed the Council’s initiatives in the Executive Budget to allow for a thorough examination and discussion of each initiative during the budget review process in the Legislature. This examination process guarantees the cooperation and collaboration of a broad cross section of our community, and inevitably, it helps formulate solutions that are representative of our community.

In addition to including the CJC initiatives in my budget, I am also proposing several enhancements to our law enforcement programs.

Go to top of page

We have worked very hard to provide the Sheriff’s office additional personnel resources within the confines of avoiding a property tax increase. My 2001 budget supports the following initiatives that will increase investigative activities, community presence, and police protection:

  • Staffing -- The budget includes my support for an initiative by Sheriff Anderson to increase the number of Sheriff’s Deputies available for direct law enforcement activities by funding two Sheriff’s Aides. This change allows two Sheriff’s Deputies to be reassigned from communications to active law enforcement duties and patrols, effectively increasing our commitment to public safety by an additional 4,150 "man" hours annually.
     

  • Overtime -- Overtime was increased from $921,519 to $990,000 in the 2001 law enforcement budget. This increase combined with a reduction in overtime scheduled for special events that will not be repeated in 2001 will allow for a significant increase to law enforcement hours in 2001. It is estimated this additional funding will effectively add over 2300 additional "man" hours in 2001.
     

  • Technology -- The 2001 budget increases funding to support the Sheriff’s mobile computer initiative. The 2001 budget for telephone & telegraph, maintenance and service contracts and rental of equipment were increased over 40% or $ 118,800 to support upgrades and new initiatives in communications, CAD, and mobile computing. Mobile computers will allow deputies to increase active patrol time versus administrative duties performed after shift on overtime. This will allow overtime hours previously used for administrative purposes to be allocated for investigations and other law enforcement patrol activities.

    Go to top of page


  • Training -- The 2001 budget increases funding for staff development. Increased funding of 148% or $33,000 is provided to ensure a well-trained force knowledgeable in the most current law enforcement tactics and procedures.
     

  • Automatic External Defibrillators -- In 1996, the County joined in a collaborative venture, Operation Heartbeat, spearheaded by the American Heart Association, the Community Fund, Laerdal, IBM, and area hospitals. Operation Heartbeat is a program designed to strengthen the chain of survival and increase the survival rate of individuals suffering from cardiac arrest.
     

The chain of survival is a series of four steps to successfully treat a sudden cardiac arrest or heart attack: early access to care (dial 911); early CPR; early defibrillation; and early advanced care. We have made significant strides towards our commitment to strengthening the chain of survival. In 1996 we expanded our partnership with the American Heart Association and Laerdal by initiating and participating in a school site CPR program to ensure graduating high school students know CPR. Ensuring early access to care became a reality in September 1999 with the implementation of our Enhanced 911 system.

Now in partnership with Sheriff Anderson we will enhance the third link in the chain, early defibrillation, through a three year stepped program to equip our Sheriff’s vehicles with Automatic External Defibrillators(AED’s). Having this equipment in our Sheriff’s cars around the clock, stationed around the county will significantly increase the chances of survival for cardiac arrest victims.

In his 2000 budget submission to this office, the Commissioner of Health proposed a series of changes designed to strengthen the Medical Examiner program in Dutchess County. The proposal recommended upgrading the Chief Medical Examiner position to a board certified forensic pathologist and adding a forensic investigator and program assistant. This is a significant change for county government and warrants serious study.

Go to top of page

The Medical Examiner is entrusted with the responsibility of investigating sudden violent, suspicious, unexpected, unexplained or medically unattended deaths. The proposed changes are intended to strengthen the technical scientific and investigative capabilities of the Medical Examiner Office to better serve the criminal justice and public health objectives of county government.

The 2001 budget while not funding this new approach, instead provides funding to evaluate the proposed program upgrade in the context of similar jurisdictions in New York State and to provide an independent assessment of whether or not the county should act on the Commissioner’s proposal.

SERVICES TO CHILDREN AND FAMILIES

More than 40,000 people in Dutchess County receive direct services and support from the Department of Social Services through such programs as Medicaid, day care, child support, food stamps, children’s services, and Temporary Assistance; more than 53,000 people in the county receive direct services from the Department of Health through such programs as home health care, education and early intervention for very young children, restaurant, water and camp inspections and flu and other clinics; and more than 18,000 individuals receive direct services from the Department of Mental Hygiene through programs supporting the needs of the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill, and the chemically dependent. The proposed Year 2001 Executive Budget includes:

Go to top of page

  • $14 million for Dutchess County Foster Care programs which serves 450 young people (reflecting an increase in the daily foster care rates paid to foster parents); $5.215 million in day care allocations for 1,100 children, an increase of $415,000 over this year; $1.8 million for the child support unit which services 15,000 people; $1.6 million for the Food Stamp program which serves more than 6700 people in the county; and 1600 families participate in the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) which has more than $1.1 million appropriated in the Year 2001 Executive Budget.


    Graph - Growth In Day Care Expenditures
     

    Go to top of page


  • $2.1 million in TANF Surplus dollars to be spent on children in need and child enrichment initiatives, education and workforce development, domestic violence assessment and intensive services, work-related transportation, housing and family development training programs all intended to assist families in transition from welfare dependency to self-sufficiency and independence.

     

  • Medicaid, often referred to as the "mother of all mandates," will cost Dutchess County homeowners and businesses almost $35 million in local taxes alone. The gross cost of Medicaid in Dutchess County, for Dutchess County residents and paid for by is more than $200 million (inclusive of federal, state and local share)!


    Graph - Growth In Medicaid Spending

     

  • $500,000 for the Children’s Health Initiative launched this year to develop information and education outreach to teach children the dangers of smoking.

    Go to top of page


  • $500,000 in West Nile Virus appropriations for the continuation of our surveillance program that serves as our "early warning system" and larviciding program to reduce the number of mosquitoes that pose the threat of disease. In addition we have earmarked $3 million of fund balance for potential adulticiding.

     

  • The Transportation and Education for Handicapped Children (T&E) program will increase from $9.83 million to $10.57 million. The net cost to the county will increase from $3.68 million to $3.975 million, a mandated increase of 8%. The Early Intervention Programs (EIP) program will increase from $4 million to $4.475 million. The net cost to the county will increase from $1.5 million to $1.7 million, a mandated increase of 13%.
     

  • $500,000 for Part ‘B’ Medicare and other health related premiums for elderly in need, as well as $2.5 million for mandated medical transportation services--services provided to the elderly, the young, and the needy in our county.

    Go to top of page

Dutchess County’s Medicaid increase can be attributed to higher costs for prescription drugs; increases in inpatient costs; and nursing home costs which account for more than 37%, or approximately $74 million, of the total Medicaid dollars spent in the county. It is estimated 1,200 Child Health Plus recipients will be switched to Medicaid (as required by the state), and the new Family Health Plus program will begin.

This budget also reflects the costs of a major initiative from New York State as a result of Kendra’s Law, legislation designed to protect the public and individuals living with mental illness by ensuring that seriously mentally ill outpatients are safely and effectively treated. According to state officials the legislation is intended to build on New York’s community-based treatment system and is named in memory of Kendra Webdale who was killed after being pushed into the path of a New York City subway train by a mentally ill person who had a history of non-compliance with treatment.

Dutchess County will provide approximately $1.3 million of services to implement the case management program it must provide under Kendra’s Law. These dollars are 100% reimbursable from New York State. By law, the program is mandated to be under direct county supervision which will require new staff resources and administrative expenses. However, the direct services will be provided through a contract between the county and a local not-for-profit provider of services to the mentally ill.

According to Commissioner of Mental Hygiene Dr. Kenneth M. Glatt, Ph.D., the 2001 budget for mental health services reflects the most significant single year infusion of new state funding in over two decades. With these additional funds, the department will be able to provide seriously mentally ill adults and emotionally disturbed children living in our County with expanded intensive and supportive case management services which will improve the quality of their lives and mitigate against unnecessary relapse.

Go to top of page

The Dutchess County Department of Mental Hygiene is responsible by law for the planning and oversight of comprehensive community based prevention, treatment and rehabilitative services for people who are developmentally disabled, chemically dependent or mentally ill. Today through good management and system planning the department will have 111 fewer positions in 2001 than in 1992. It has transferred its mental health and chemical dependency outpatient clinic programs, thereby reducing the role of Dutchess County as a direct provider of services while strengthening the integrity and quality of available programs it oversees.

Graph- Authorized Positions 1986-2001

Go to top of page

As we in Dutchess County strengthen our focus on making a difference in the lives of families, we continue to work with others to come up with creative and cost effective ways to deliver mandated services required by the state and federal governments. Through the use of collaborative approaches and long range planning, our human services professionals are expert at tailoring flexible grant dollars to areas and populations in need -- locally identified and locally delivered -- to ensure the future good health and productivity of our entire community and all our residents.

EDUCATION

Dutchess County is proud to be the home of five top ranked institutions of higher education. We are particularly proud of Dutchess Community College as the only public institution among its peers. Dutchess Community College fills a vital need in the academic world offering a full array of educational opportunities to the entire community, traditional and non-traditional students, at very affordable rates. This budget includes nearly $8 million in 2001 to support Dutchess Community College operations. In addition, Dutchess County has invested approximately $34 million in the past several years as our share in developing and implementing the College’s master plan. These capital investments in education represent nearly one-third of the $12.6 million budgeted for debt service in 2001. Next year the College will begin a major renovation of Falcon Hall for which the county will provide an additional $646,000 as its share of the cost of construction.

Go to top of page

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

For some time I have listened to discussion in the Legislature and observed what appears to some as a struggling office unable to accomplish its mission and failing to take full advantage of the wealth of talent resident in its volunteers. It has been suggested increased tax dollars will resolve the difficulties. It is my belief the problems go beyond the issue of how many tax dollars are being spent and require immediate legislative attention, and that adding staff is not necessarily the correct course or the ultimate solution. As the Human Rights Commission does not fall under the direct supervision of the Executive Branch, I am unable to step in to resolve these problems as I would be able to in an executive department. However, I am obligated to bring those problems to your attention, and to underscore the immediacy of the need for intervention and action. I have budgeted three months’ of appropriations in the Commission’s budget. Funding for the remaining nine months has been placed in contingency to be released when the Legislature determines the full extent of the Commission’s problems and has developed a remediation plan to determine the future course of the commission. I am hopeful the Legislature will spend the first quarter of 2001 conducting this evaluation.

HIGHWAYS

With the exception of rising fuel costs, operating expenses in our highway operations are predicted to remain relatively stable in 2001 with growth estimated at approximately 2.2% for a total commitment of $10.2 million. However, the administration has been very aggressive in obtaining state and federal grants to support the capital maintenance needs of the 312 bridges and 394 miles of roads under the county’s jurisdiction. In 2000, nearly $30 million of road and bridge projects were initiated, and approximately $11.6 of additional projects are scheduled for 2001.

Go to top of page

PARKS AND OPEN SPACE

Our commitment to protect the natural character, essential agricultural fields, and breathtaking open spaces in Dutchess County has led to the Open Space and Agricultural Protection Plan and Matching Grant Fund. The Dutchess County Planning Board has recently completed its review of the first round of project applications for the available $1 million in County matching funds. The recommended projects which will be forwarded to this Legislature and the County Executive for final authorization comprise approximately 600 acres of farmland and recreational spaces in East Fishkill, Red Hook, Rhinebeck and Wappinger. To continue this appropriate level of commitment, I have forwarded another $1 million bond proposal to be before you this month to fund the second round of project applications due in January 2001. Our Year 2001 Capital Program includes an ongoing capital commitment of $1 million annually that will enable and support our partners and local communities as we all work on projects preserving open space and protecting farmland - projects whose benefits extend beyond municipal borders and truly achieve the Greenway vision in Dutchess County.

Our Parks Capital program provides for continued improvements in existing parks and park facilities with new pavilions and program buildings scheduled for construction. Also included is an exciting plan to construct an amphitheater at Bowdoin Park in the coming year. We have estimated 72,000 people will have visited Bowdoin or Wilcox Parks by the end of 2000. Thousands more use the rail trails and other county lands. Continuing to aggressively protect our parks and open space for our residents and visitors must remain a priority.

Go to top of page

TECHNOLOGY

Many exciting technology enhancements are scheduled for 2001. In addition to the technology enhancements in the Sheriff’s Office outlined above, we plan to continue the transition from a mainframe environment to a decentralized one. The wide area network provides the opportunity to introduce new platforms and creative solutions to improve efficiency and enhance the effectiveness of service delivery. $127,000 is provided for the second phase of a three-year project to replace the computer equipment in the Probation Department which no longer supported by the manufacturer.

OCIS will also be introducing digital imaging capabilities to departments other than the County Clerk where the technology is currently employed. This Document Archival/Retrieval System will require a capital investment of $150,000.

The Office of Computer Information Services is also scheduled to replace and enhance the Public Safety Information System "Intersystem." This system links and provides common access to all criminal justice computer records shared by the county’s principal criminal justice agencies including the District Attorney, Public Defender, Probation and Community Corrections, Jail and Sheriff. My 2001 capital plan commits $750,000 to this important and far reaching automation initiative and a total of $1.5 million over three years.

Finally, the technology to enable OCIS to be the central Internet access point for the county is being developed currently and is scheduled to be operative next spring. This change will provide departments with enhanced Internet access capabilities while also reducing administrative overhead.

Go to top of page

COUNTY WORKFORCE

Dutchess County is currently in mediation with both the CWA and the PBA to help reach agreement on new contracts to supersede those which expired on 12/31/99. In addition, talks have begun with the CSEA for a new agreement to take effect on January 1 of next year. The 2001 Budget provides full funding for all the provisions of the expired or soon to expire contracts. However, the budget does not provide for anticipated cost of living increases or any other provisions to be negotiated and implemented with the new agreements. Those costs will need to be addressed through an appropriation of fund balance when the Legislature approves the contracts. The budget funds all other classes of employees fully.

Last year the Legislature implemented the findings of the Personnel Department’s analysis of compensation levels of the county’s management and confidential employees. During 2000 the Personnel Department undertook an analysis of the compensation levels of our labor, semi-skilled and skilled workers. $250,000 is included in contingency to implement the findings of that study.

FUND BALANCE

You will note that all the initiatives included in this budget are focused on the core mission of county government. As mentioned earlier, it is the focus on our core mission that has enabled us to enhance community services and reduce the property tax burden on our residents.

During this past year, we have listened to some espouse the delivery of services already provided by other levels of government, the rationale suggesting the county has a "huge" fund balance that can well afford the additional costs. I urge the Legislature to resist this thinking and to ensure that local Dutchess County property tax dollars are not overextended to supplement state and federal entitlement programs. Dutchess County property taxpayers are already heavily burdened by state and federal mandates. Rather than trying to be all things to all people--Washington and Albany right here in Poughkeepsie, I suggest we focus our administrative and political energies at the state and national governments on behalf of our residents.

Go to top of page

The undesignated fund balance at the end of 1999 represented approximately ten percent of the adopted year 2000 Budget. That is exactly the amount the financial community recommends having during strong economic periods. Conversely, finance professionals recommend the balance never drop below five percent, a threshold we could easily fall below if we experience continued growth in mandated spending coupled with a leveling of sales tax receipts and negative adjustments by the State as we experienced as recently as 1997 and 1998. In addition to the role a modest fund balance plays in maintaining our enviable Aa1 bond rating and the lower interest rates we enjoy as a result of that rating, the fund balance also generates essential interest income to help support the delivery for county services, provides working capital to offset the need for short term borrowing and provides the wherewithal to meet sudden emergencies or economic downturns. Let us not lose sight of the simple reality that our nation is in the longest period of economic growth ever. History and prudence tell us that change will happen and we need to be prepared to respond.

In looking at the fund balance, be reminded no funding has been appropriated for adulticiding against West Nile Virus. It is estimated that $3 million could be needed for this purpose in 2001 if the County is left with no option but to spray. We need to "earmark" at least this amount in our fund balance for this contingency. And be reminded, spraying would not be a cost we could bond because it could likely become an ongoing operation cost if circumstances warrant. Accordingly, we need to consider not only 2001, but 2002 and beyond.

Funding has also not been appropriated for costs associated with new labor agreements with the county’s three bargaining units. When one considers the county has a total payroll of $103 million (salaries and benefits) and the need to fund increases for two years with two units and one year for the other, simple math reveals that several million dollars will be required from our undesignated fund balance.

Go to top of page

The appropriation of $9.2 million for the 2001 budget (consistent with the amount appropriated for the current 2000 budget) together with the funds earmarked for West Nile and labor settlements, positions the fund balance at a level which satisfies the financial community and provides the first level of protection in the event of a slowing of our local economy--prudent and responsive.

This is the ninth budget I have submitted as County Executive, and as each of its predecessors, it represents my commitment to providing high value, cost-effective government services. Tightening the county operating budget has been one of my top priorities, and we have done it probably as well as, or better than any county in New York. Through effective management, we have increased service to the residents while reducing property taxes; we have reduced the size of government and through the use of technology and other initiatives reduced the number of employees below the level of the mid-1980's; we have reduced the welfare rolls, redefined the system of delivering mental hygiene services to embrace private sector partners and, at the same time, made significant successful investments which have enhanced our economic development and job creation. We have also successfully placed emphasis on quality of life issues such as the protection and enhancement of our environment and the arts and cultural sectors of our community.

The Year 2001 Executive Budget before you is consistent with my vision for Dutchess County--a place where individuals and families matter; where employment opportunities abound; where cooperation and collaboration in managing public policy are the norm; where health, safety and affordable educational opportunities are assured; where open space is preserved; where effective government leadership continues to serve community needs efficiently and without placing undue financial burdens on its residents.

The executive branch looks forward to building upon the successful foundation created in last year’s legislative budget review process where discussion was service oriented and focused on what was to be achieved through the county’s investments in services (outcomes) rather than on what materials and supplies those investments would purchase.

In closing, I wish to express my thanks to my entire executive office and budget staff; to all my executive department heads and to the independently elected officials for their assistance and cooperation in the development of the Year 2001 Executive Budget.

Sincerely,
 

WILLIAM R. STEINHAUS
County Executive

Go to top of page