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Dutchess County YEAR-END 2020 Financial Condition Remains Strong Despite Challenges of COVID-19 Pandemic

Published: 5/24/2021

For More Information Contact:

Colleen Pillus, Communications Director

845-486-2000

Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Government’s 2020 year-end financial report, which highlights the County’s solid fiscal foundation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, has been submitted to the New York State Office of the Comptroller. The County’s conservative fiscal management, including proactive steps to mitigate negative fiscal impacts resulting from the pandemic while providing needed support to residents throughout the crisis, resulted in closing out 2020 with healthy general fund balance of $60 million, an increase of $3.1 million over 2019.

The annual report, normally submitted on May 1st, was delayed this year as the County awaited United States Treasury guidance relating to American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding. The guidance has been received and is currently under review, however it was clarified that the Federal revenues, intended to help the County offset revenue losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, should be booked to the 2021 fiscal year, not the 2020 fiscal year.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “Despite the economic blows we took in 2020 from the COVID-19 pandemic, Dutchess County Government’s fiscal foundation remains strong and secure because we made careful, measured decisions over the past year as we worked to respond to the needs of our residents and community during unprecedented circumstances. We were able to step up and expand critical services and resources as they were needed. Now, as the threat of COVID-19 lessens as more and more residents are vaccinated, we are poised to move Dutchess County forward and help our residents recover and thrive.”

Highlights of the 2020 Annual Financial Report include:

  • 2020 revenues totaled $485.3 million and expenses totaled $488.3 million, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused dramatic swings in revenues and expenses.
  • General fund revenue decreased $16.8 million from 2019. Revenue declines included:
    • Sales tax receipts were down $8.6 million, a decrease of 4.1% compared to 2019;
    • State aid decreased $7.5 million, primarily due to lower reimbursements for partially funded State-mandated programs some of which were paused for COVID-19 including Early Intervention (EI) and Pre-School Special Education Services (PS).
  • General fund expenses decreased $13.7 million as some programs and services were paused due to COVID-19 and the County instituted savings measures to mitigate the uncertainty of revenue shortfalls. Expenditure decreases included:
    • $1.6 million reduction in sales tax growth revenue sharing payments to local municipalities as overall sales tax receipts were down $8.6 million;
    • $3.2 million decrease in costs at the Dutchess County Jail due to lower inmate population and smaller workforce; 
    • $3.7 million decrease for state-mandated pre-school special education programming that was temporarily paused;
    • $9.5 million decrease in the Department of Community and Family Services’ child institution costs and foster care as ongoing preventive programming efforts continue with in-home services and initiatives for increased kinship care;
    • $4.6 million decrease in Medicaid costs due to increased Federal eFMAP reimbursement as part of the Federal CARES Act.
  • The lower general fund expenses were offset by multiple increased costs related to COVID-19 pandemic including:
    • $1.3 million increase in homelessness costs as the County opened an alternative homeless shelter to provide safety and adequate social distancing;
    • General Government Support costs increased more than $2.1 million for COVID-19 related expenses including:
      • Computer and network equipment to enable employees to work from home;
      • Establishing COVID-19 testing site at Dutchess Stadium;
      • Cleaning and safety supplies as well as building modifications for social distancing;
      • Establishing additional care capacity in the event of hospitals exceeding capacity at  Dutchess Community College
    • Other expense reductions came from spending restrictions put in place during the pandemic to mitigate the long-term impact, including holding positions vacant where possible, postponing all non-essential travel and training and delaying all non-essential spending.

The 2020 fiscal year ended with $60 million in general fund unassigned fund balance, an increase of $3.1 million over 2019, which is solidly within the County’s desired range of 1-2 months of operating expenses (a range of $38 million to $76 million). While the local economy is rebounding well, with unemployment currently at 5.8%, down from 14% at the height of the pandemic and an $8.3 million increase in first quarter sales tax receipts compared to last year, there are many unknowns that remain about the economic recovery. Maintaining a solid fund balance is critical to managing and adjusting to external financial impacts on the County budget and finances.

The full 2020 Annual Financial Report and accompanying fiscal update memo are available on the County’s website at 2020-2021 Fiscal Update.