News Release


For More Information:

William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000


For Immediate Release

April 19, 2001



Poughkeepsie. . . Rising pension rates announced recently by New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall will cost Dutchess County $1.2 million more than budgeted, according to County Executive William R. Steinhaus.

As a public sector employer in New York State, Dutchess County participates in the New York State and Local Retirement Systems, which are administered by the State Comptroller. The system finances pensioner payments and system operating costs through a combination of employer contributions, employee contributions and earnings on investments. Strong investment earnings in recent years have reduced the system’s dependence on employer and employee contributions. Recent stock market setbacks however, have resulted in the Comptroller’s call to increase employer contributions from local municipalities across New York.

Citing a letter dated April 11, 2001, from Deputy New York State Comptroller Jeffrey P. Swain, Steinhaus said, "We’ve now received official notice to anticipate a billing rate of 1.5 percent above the estimates provided by Comptroller McCall last fall when we were preparing our 2001 county budget."

The impact of the additional cost will be softened, according to Steinhaus, by a $500,000 reserve we decided to create in anticipation of possible future pension cost increases. "The county’s finance professionals, with the support of our independent auditors, anticipated and provided for the possibility of an increase in employer contribution rates or other pension system charges," noted Steinhaus. Even with that cushion, however, the county is facing an unfunded liability of nearly $700,000 that most likely will require an appropriation from our fund balance into the County’s 2001 operating budget.

"Having reserve funds available to meet unique demands such as this underscores the importance of maintaining a sufficient fund balance as recommended by the financial community," said Steinhaus. The county had planned to use available fund balance monies to pay additional costs anticipated for labor contract settlements. Steinhaus noted, "tThe added pension costs will reduce some of the resources available to pay for new employee contracts, but we remain confident we can reach agreement with our employees at an affordable price to taxpayers."


2001 Press Releases