News Release

 

For More Information:

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

For Immediate Release

October 30, 2002

STEINHAUS PROPOSES BROAD-BASED REVIEW
Of Health, Social and Human Service Departments

Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus will launch a broad-based organizational review of Dutchess County’s health, social, and human service delivery system in 2003.  This study of six county government departments, designed to identify possible reforms to the structure of county government, will include the departments of Aging, Health, Mental Hygiene, Social Services, Veteran’s Affairs, and the Youth Bureau.  Spending in these departments in the current 2002 modified county budget totals over $154 million and the departments employ nearly 800 county staff.  $100,000 will be included in the 2003 Executive Budget to conduct this review.

The County Executive said, “Changing conditions call us to an even higher level of action.  When organizations are most challenged by economic downturns, increased costs, and higher demands for service, a comprehensive internal look must be made of the organization.”

“Business and industry re-engineer all the time and we want to continue to do that in county government.  My goal is to find more opportunities to identify promising innovative solutions.” Steinhaus continued, “Improved, more cost-effective and integrated service delivery must be explored under the existing environment.  What was up to standard just a few years ago, may not be good enough for county government today and tomorrow.” 

The study will identify possible overlap, duplication, and mandated versus optional services.  The objective will be to review recommendations for operational improvements and realignments, including consolidations as well as alliances with community partners.  The goal is to continue to improve services, service delivery and, very importantly, save taxpayers money.

Commissioner of Social Services Robert Allers said, “At a time when money constraints are so dominant in our budget, we cannot afford to overlook any opportunity to strengthen services while eliminating duplicated costs.” 

Dr. Michael C. Caldwell, Commissioner of Health noted, “There has never been a better time to consider this exciting and promising endeavor.  The Department of Health and all of our staff are committed to improving our service delivery to the Dutchess community.  We look forward to participating in a constructive dialogue throughout this review process.”

“Dutchess County is known throughout New York State for our collaboration across systems,” added Betsy Brockway, Executive Director of the Youth Bureau.  “This project will provide us an opportunity to build on our strengths to better serve families and youth.  I look forward to participating in this process with County Executive Steinhaus to improve the continuum of services we provide and to increase positive outcomes for our children and families.”

In response to the planned study, Dr. Kenneth Glatt, Commissioner of Mental Hygiene, said, “After all is said and done, I’m here for one reason: to insure that the mentally disabled in our County are treated with dignity, served professionally, and are supported in their recovery.  I embrace enthusiastically any changes in the way the human service delivery system is structured that foster integration and seamlessness, improve the quality of care people receive, and utilize resources in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.”

The Director of the Office for the Aging, John Beale, is optimistic that such a study will give support to the county’s senior programs and service delivery.  He said, “There are more reasons than ever to think outside the box.  County Executive Steinhaus has been a great champion of services to senior citizens and he is aware that the demands for senior services are expected to double within the next ten years.  We need to do things as efficiently as we can so we can afford to keep up with our commitment to senior citizens.”  

Throughout his tenure as County Executive, Steinhaus has successfully instituted reform and consolidations in numerous areas of Dutchess County government including: merging Disaster Preparedness into Emergency Services; realigning Aviation and Parks with Public Works; moving Early Intervention and Pre-K programs for handicapped children from the Youth Bureau to the Health Department; restructuring the Auto Center as part of Central Services; and consolidating the DART bus system into the LOOP bus system.

While the fiscal squall before us is a daunting one, I am steadfast in my belief that we can weather this storm.  The real test for government leaders comes when times are tough. I am confident we can continue to find innovative ways both to streamline and strengthen the myriad of services we provide our residents,” said Steinhaus “With the knowledge gained from this study, the legislature and the executive will be positioned to provide the strong leadership necessary to maintain the traditional core services of Dutchess County government without compromising the integrity of our financial health yet recognizing the limited ability of our local property taxpayers to Dutchess County property taxes have been cut in 7 of the 10 Steinhaus budgets. There are fewer county employees than a decade ago.  The county share of property taxes, which makes up approximately 13% of the property taxes paid by homeowners and businesses, is lower today than in 1989 because of strong management in the daily operation of county government and a concentrated effort over the past 11 years to work smarter and to create innovative, cost effective solutions. 

Similar organizational reviews are being undertaken in counties around the state as all counties attempt to deal with the severe impacts on county budgets resulting from state mandates, primarily the Albany-imposed mandated Medicaid program which will cost Dutchess County property taxpayers more than $40 million in 2003 alone.

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2002 Press Releases