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Poughkeepsie…Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro presented his 2015 Tentative County Budget this afternoon to county officials and community leaders at Arnoff Moving & Storage in Poughkeepsie, ahead of the required November 1st deadline required by the Dutchess County Administrative Code. County Executive Molinaro’s budget plan focuses on Moving Dutchess Forward with the largest property tax levy reduction in over a decade, property tax rebate checks for homeowners paid for by New York State, a spending reduction for the third year in a row and targeted investment in business attraction, tourism promotion and infrastructure investment.
"The work we have done over the past three years and the decisions we have made continue to transform Dutchess County Government and today we are smaller, smarter and more effective for it. This allows us to deliver tax relief to our residents while providing the critical services and programs they depend on,” said County Executive Molinaro.
2015 Budget Highlights include:
The property tax levy has been reduced by more than $300K, the largest reduction to the county’s property tax levy since 2001. Remaining under the property tax cap and continued focus on shared services and consolidation will ensure Dutchess County meets the two key criteria necessary for STAR eligible county property taxpayers to receive rebate checks next fall through the New York State Property Tax Freeze Credit two year tax relief program. “The reduction in the property tax levy combined with property tax rebate checks equates to a 2% reduction in tax burden for our county residents,” said Molinaro.
The budget plan continues “Moving Dutchess Forward” with focus on an economic development strategy designed to bring business, jobs and people to the County and continue improving the quality of life. The plan includes a restructuring within the Department of Planning & Development to enable planners to better assist municipalities get sites ready for business development. Dutchess County capital investment of nearly $10 million will leverage state and federal aid providing for a total of $33 million in infrastructure investment to improve roads, bridges and water systems. County Executive Molinaro will submit a bond resolution to the County Legislature for a $1 million investment in the Partnership for Manageable Growth, which will be focused on agriculture and infrastructure development. Additionally, there will be added funding of $360,000 directed for tourism promotion and agri-business development, both key economic industries in the county.
The budget plan includes a modest appropriation of fund balance, with total fund balance maintained at the recommended 5% of budget, a significant factor in Dutchess County’s credit rating upgrade to AA+ by Standard & Poor’s. The AA+ rating places Dutchess in the top tier of financially well managed county governments, with only one county statewide with a higher S&P bond rating. S&P cited the restored fund balance and the County’s strong management in their rating report.
County Executive Molinaro said, “Maintaining a reasonable fund balance is essential to our continued stability as the County continues to be challenged by rising mandate costs that are out of our control as well as other costs. Additionally, we have union contracts that must be settled in the coming year. County employees have risen to the challenge of the past several years and have continued to take on new responsibilities and are doing more with less. We are grateful to them for all of their work, and I have directed our negotiating team to settle on agreements that reward our employees for their efforts while at the same time balancing the impact to our taxpayers.”
Other highlights of the County Executive’s Tentative Budget include $1 million in savings resulting from the installation of temporary housing units at the Dutchess County Jail next year which will help address the costly issue of housing out inmates in other counties. The budget eliminates taxpayer subsidy to the Resource Recovery Agency, the first time since 1994 that a subsidy has not been required, due in part to the creation of the Solid Waste Management Division and the Local Solid Waste Management Plan that puts an aggressive focus on recycling. The 2015 Tentative Budget plan also includes a modest increase in funding for the Agency Partner Grant Program, which directs dollars to community agencies to address specific needs in the community.
The 2015 Tentative Budget features the updated format and presentation introduced last year to provide greater transparency and make it easier to understand for residents, with more fiscal summaries, budget processing detail and an in-depth overview of how county government functions. The Budget in Brief document provides key breakouts of mandated and optional services provided by Dutchess County Government. With 70% of net county costs consumed by state and federal mandates, these breakdowns are helpful for residents to know, so they can understand what expense areas county government can impact and which ones are outside of control. Dutchess County’s redesigned budget format was recognized with the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) earlier this year.
Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature Rob Rolison said, “Overall, I am pleased with the conservative budget presented by County Executive Molinaro that both cuts spending and taxes. The Executive budget proposal seems to be a well thought out plan but we, the County Legislature, look forward to working with the Administration to review the budget plan. We need to work together to formulate the best possible budget - one that ensures we continue to deliver core county services, grow economic development and job opportunities, and enhance our residents' quality of life."
“This budget is an important milestone that we have been working toward… a stabilized fund balance, no new taxes, no cuts to core programs and services, and taxpayer relief with a reduced property levy. County Executive Molinaro has delivered a well thought out plan. I look forward to reviewing the budget over the next several weeks and am cautiously optimistic that the plan can become a reality” said Dale Borchert, Dutchess County Legislator and Chairman of the Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee.
Dutchess County Legislature Majority Leader Angela Flesland said, “The County Executive's budget proposal is a win for taxpayers. Using sound fiscal management practices the 2015 Budget now before the Legislature includes a reduction in the property tax levy. This will result in residents receiving a much needed rebate check next year from the State. Though we continue to suffer the effects of unfunded mandates, this budget is a good balance of providing services our 297,000 residents rely on, at a price that is affordable. I look forward to beginning the Legislature's in depth review of the 2015 Budget.”
The 2015 Tentative Budget documents are available online at dutchessny.gov. Residents are encouraged to review the budget documents, particularly the Budget in Brief document, and then attend one of several town hall forums scheduled throughout the county in November and December (see below). Additionally, there will be a special countywide live tele-town hall forum on Wednesday, November 12th from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. The tele-town hall call in number is (877) 228-2184, then enter event ID #113489 at the prompt. Residents will have the opportunity to participate in a live conversation about the 2015 county budget, learn about key components, and be able to ask questions and share feedback.
Wednesday, November 5th at 6pm
Red Hook Firehouse
42 MM Ham Memorial Fire House Lane
Red Hook, NY 12571
Saturday, November 8th at 12pm
Vassar College Bookstore at the Juliet
60 Raymond Avenue
Poughkeepsie, NY 12603
Wednesday, November 12th from 6:30pm to 8pm
COUNTYWIDE Tele-Town Hall
Call (877) 228-2184
Enter ID # 113489 at the prompt
Tuesday, November 18th at 7pm
Cornell Cooperative Extension
2715 Route 44
Millbrook, NY 12545
Monday, November 24th at 6pm
American Legion Post 178
155 Route 44
Millerton, NY 12546
Monday, December 8th at 6pm
East Fishkill Town Hall
330 Route 376
Hopewell Junction, NY 12533