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Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro announced Dutchess County Government has again received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the 2015 county budget from the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada. The award is designed to encourage and recognize exemplary budgeting practices and is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting.
In order to receive the budget award, government entities must satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation. These guidelines are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as:
• a policy document;
• a financial plan;
• an operations guide; and
• a communications device
“This award reflects Dutchess County’s commitment to the highest principles of governmental budgeting. We have sought to make our budget process transparent and accountable, with a long-term vision that demonstrates careful financial planning on behalf of our taxpayers. That commitment has kept Dutchess County under the property tax cap and resulted in the largest property tax levy decrease in more than 14 years,” said County Executive Molinaro. "Congratulations to all who contributed to this award winning budget, including our talented management team, departments and our County Legislature.”
Dutchess County’s budget documents were revamped in 2013 for the 2014 county budget to provide greater transparency and make it easier to understand for residents. Budget documents were restructured to provide more fiscal summaries, budget processing detail and an in-depth overview of how county government functions.
Budget documents include:
The annual county budget is accompanied by an easy to read “Budget in Brief” document that provides budget highlights and information about key components of the budget. The Budget in Brief provides key breakouts of mandated and optional services provided by Dutchess County government. Budget documents can be found on the Dutchess County Government website.
Presenting the county budget in a manner that is easy to follow and understand is part of ongoing efforts to get the public engaged in the county budget development and implementation. Additionally, the public is invited to attend town hall budget forums held throughout the county or participate in a countywide tele-town hall conference call with County Executive Molinaro. Both forums are designed to answer questions, respond to comments and get feedback and ideas from residents.
Dutchess County Legislature Budget, Finance & Personnel Committee Chairman Dale Borchert said, “We continue our work to make the annual county budget process more informative and accessible. We are committed to reducing the tax burden for our residents whenever possible – in order to do so we must have all of the information clear and easy to understand. We have gotten very positive feedback from residents on our budget process and this latest national honor validates the great work being done by the Dutchess County Budget Office.”
The Dutchess County Legislature recognized the achievement with a special commendation presented to Valerie Sommerville, County Budget Director, at its July Board meeting on Monday, July 13th in the Legislature Chambers.
Sommerville said, “A tremendous amount of work goes into the creation of the annual county budget. I am grateful for the tireless dedication of our budget staff. We are honored to once again receive national recognition for our budget work, but more importantly we are pleased to provide budget documents that are accessible and easy to understand for our residents.”
The Dutchess County Budget Office is an established leader in public sector budgeting. Budget Director Sommerville has been asked to serve as an instructor and panel moderator at multiple statewide and regional GFOA conferences. Sommerville will be one of the instructors for “Fundamentals of Budgeting in the Public Sector” at the New York State GFOA Government Finance Institute (GFI) Foundations Budgeting Workshop to be held on Tuesday, July 21st at the Hancock Center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie. The program is designed to provide an introduction to public sector budget for those new to government finance as well as refresher for those looking to sharpen their budgeting skills. Municipal officials interested in participating in the NYS GFOA workshop can get more information at www.nysgfoa.org.
The GFOA, founded in 1906, is a nonprofit association serving nearly 18,000 government finance professionals throughout the United States and Canada. New York State Government Finance Officers' Association was founded in 1978 as a not-for-profit professional membership organization. NYS GFOA is composed of more than 1,250 public and private sector government finance professionals throughout New York State.