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Molinaro Announces Year End 2015 Financial Condition

Published: 5/2/2016

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Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie...Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro announced the County’s 2015 year-end financial report has been completed and submitted as required to the New York State Office of the Comptroller.   The report demonstrates the success of Dutchess County’s conservative fiscal management, with expenditures well below revenues and a healthy fund balance that exceeds the County’s targeted goals.   With County reserves rebuilt and stabilized, County Executive Molinaro will establish a taxpayer protection fund to provide property tax stability for residents for the next several years.    Additionally, the County will supplement the 2016 Municipal Consolidation and Shared Services Grant Program to fund projects that produce cost savings and efficiencies in local municipalities to help them minimize property tax impacts.

 "We have made the county's financial security and minimizing the impact on taxpayers our priority. The 2015 year-end financial report proves our steps to consolidate county government, enhance efficiencies and root out waste are not only making this county government smaller, smarter, and more effective but enabling us to provide real taxpayer relief," said County Executive Molinaro.   "In spite of the overwhelming challenges of growing our economy in a state that is the least business friendly in America and paying for Albany imposed mandates, Dutchess County is growing financially healthier and fiscally stronger, enabling us to protect our taxpayers today and in the years ahead."

Highlights of the year-end financial report include:

  • 2015 revenues of $473.7 million exceeded expenditures of $447.1 million by $26.6 million, demonstrating the Molinaro Administration’s commitment to pending controls and conservative fiscal stewardship.
  • The County realized $13 million over budget as a result of revenue reconciliation and maximization in the Department of Community and Family Services.  New internal processes have been established to expedite state revenue claims.   Dutchess County’s leadership in fiscal scrutiny led to the discovery of an error in a state reimbursement formula, resulting in a correction and distribution of more than a million dollars to counties statewide.
  • The 2015 fiscal year ended with $57.2 million in general fund unassigned fund balance, positioning the County at a very healthy 13% of realized general fund revenue.

Molinaro noted, "Through innovative practices, forward thinking policies and a focus on improving the way we do business -  we are seeing modest economic growth, a smarter and more efficient county government, and two years of property tax reductions. By replenishing our fund balance, we are now able to establish a taxpayer protection fund while offering financial assistance to municipal governments to accomplish the same."

The County’s fund balance management policy states that to the extent general fund balance exceeds 10% of budget, funds will be used to provide property tax relief or to pay down or avoid indebtedness.   With the County’s fund balance now exceeding that 10% threshold, County Executive Molinaro plans to set aside $13.3 million to provide tax stability over the next several years.    A Taxpayer Protection Fund will be established with $10 million to enable Dutchess County to remain under the property tax cap for the next several budget cycles.    “This Taxpayer Protection Fund will provide residents and business owners crucial relief from potential future tax increases.   This will enable families and business owners to confidently forecast their county property taxes and better allocate their dollars into investments that benefit their families and local businesses,” said County Executive Molinaro.   Dutchess County has remained under the property tax cap every year under County Executive Molinaro’s administration, with the property tax levy cut in both 2015 and 2016 and the property tax rate was reduced in 2016 for the first time in nearly a decade.

The County Executive also plans to augment the 2016 Municipal Consolidation and Shared Services Grant Program (MCSSGP), with additional funding for projects that produce multi-year cost savings and efficiencies for local municipalities enabling them to minimize local property tax impact, with priority given to projects that can reduce and/or avoid property tax increases.   “We have seen great success in our MCSSGP and this will provide added opportunity for municipalities to compete for funding for projects that can benefit their residents and provide them savings.  Whether it is a capital project such as road repair or building improvement that has been pushed off for too long due to lack of funding or an efficiency enhancement such as a technology upgrade that enables them to provide better service to residents, this funding supplement can have a measurable, positive impact for local municipalities,” said Molinaro.

Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Dale Borchert said, “Dutchess County Government has worked diligently and collectively over the past several years to rebuild our financial structure and ensure it is solid and strong.   We have reached an important milestone in surpassing our fund balance goals and it is very gratifying to be able to provide our local property taxpayers with the assurance of tax stability for the foreseeable future.”

Dutchess County Legislature Budget, Finance & Personnel Chairwoman Angela Flesland noted, “I applaud the work of County Executive Molinaro’s administration, who in partnership with the Legislature, have made conservative fiscal stewardship the utmost priority.    The policies put in place and diligence demonstrated in ensuring the County maximizes all opportunities for savings and revenues are clearly making an important difference.  It is crucial we continue to exercise the same fiscal prudence as we go forward to protect against unforeseen circumstances and ensure we can continue to remain under the property tax cap and provide relief for our residents.”

The full 2015 Unaudited Financial Report and Finance Commissioner Heidi Seelbach and Budget Director Jessica White’s overview memo to the Dutchess County Legislature can be found HERE.