O’Neil Releases 2024 Executive Budget Plan Reducing Property Taxes and Addressing Critical Priorities

O’Neil Releases 2024 Executive Budget Plan Reducing
Property Taxes and Addressing Critical Priorities

Poughkeepsie … Amidst millions in additional New York State mandated costs and overall cost increases driven by inflation, Dutchess County Executive William F.X. O’Neil has released his 2024 Executive Budget, cutting the County’s property tax rate by 10.6 percent while maintaining and enhancing the County’s high-quality services and programs.

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The balanced spending plan, which reduces the property tax levy for the 10th consecutive year, includes $599.9 million in appropriations to deliver the multitude of County programs and services residents rely on. Among the highlights of the 2024 Executive plan are resources to enhance public safety and emergency response, address homelessness, mental health and addiction, and create affordable housing, while augmenting longstanding support of children, families, older adults and veterans.

The Executive Budget plan reduces the County property tax levy to $99.4 million, the lowest levy in 15 years. The lower property tax levy, combined with Dutchess County’s growing tax base, reduces the property tax rate from $2.49 to $2.23 per $1,000 of assessed value. This will be the 11th consecutive year that property owners will see a reduction in the County tax rate on their tax bill.

County Executive O’Neil said, “For years, Dutchess County has compiled a proven track record of fiscal responsibility and conservative fiscal stewardship. Many factors outside of our control are driving up costs for 2024, including national inflation and Albany’s reckless spending and continued cost shifting. This budget plan attempts to cushion these impacts and continues Dutchess County’s careful watch of each tax dollar collected while investing in the areas our community has prioritized. We remain vigilant in serving our residents in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible, while providing exemplary service and property tax relief for our residents.”

While overall costs have risen across the board due to inflation, including employee contract costs for salaries and benefits, New York State is adding millions in increased mandated costs to counties. In 2024, New York State mandated costs in the Dutchess County budget will increase by $16 million for State programming – including Medicaid, child institution costs, pre-school special education, early intervention and assigned council costs. New York State is one of the few states in the nation to push Medicaid costs to County taxpayers and for 2024, Governor Hochul increased the County’s annual costs by $6.2 million by reallocating federal funding originally intended to offset county property taxes. Additionally, the State will not be reimbursing Dutchess County $15 million due from the same federal funding for prior Medicaid costs incurred by the County.

State officials are forecasting multi-billion dollar deficits for upcoming years, therefore the increased shifting of state costs to local counties is certain to continue. To ensure recurring revenue is available to fund critical programs and services, the 2024 Executive Budget calls for the County sales tax rate to increase from 3.75 percent to 4 percent, effective June 2024 with County and State legislative approval. Dutchess is currently one of just six counties in the state with a sales tax rate under 4 percent. With County and State legislative approval, this change will generate an additional $8.3 million in County sales tax revenue in 2024 and annually $17.1 million.

The sales tax rate adjustment will also provide added support to local municipalities, as Dutchess County shares its sales tax revenue with municipalities. Additional revenue to local municipalities is forecasted to be $1.7 million in 2024, then nearly $3 million annually.

Sales tax revenue is also generated through Dutchess County’s vibrant tourism industry, with 18 percent of sales tax revenue coming from visitors. Dutchess Tourism recently reported visitor spending reached record levels in 2022, with $706 million generated through travel-related expenses from lodging, food, beverages, transportation and retail.

Capitalizing on the strong visitor interest, the Executive Budget increases the County’s hotel tax from 4 percent to 5 percent, a move estimated to bring $4.8 million in revenue in 2024.

Dutchess County will continue its exemption on clothing and footwear items under $110 in its 2024 budget, remaining one of the few counties to ensure these needed items are tax-free for families.

Fund balance and reserve fund appropriations total $20 million in 2024, keeping Dutchess County’s fund balance well within the County’s policy of maintaining one to two months of general fund operating expenditures in unrestricted general fund balance.

Standard and Poor’s has repeatedly rated Dutchess County at AA+, the highest given to any New York county, a tribute to the County’s history of smart, balanced budgets.

Among a few of the highlights of the 2024 Executive Budget:

• Enhanced public safety with the addition of two new Deputy Sheriffs specially trained as Community Resource Officers to enhance safety and policing services in the City of Poughkeepsie; continued funding for the Dutchess County Drug Task Force, continued trainings for law enforcement officers, including implicit bias and crisis intervention; as well as a full year of the ECHO mental health program supporting the well-being of law enforcement officers.

• The new Dutchess County Justice and Transition Center, operational in 2024, will generate significant savings while expanding the County’s innovative programming to reduce recidivism. The 2024 budget plan reflects more than $1.8 million in overtime savings and $5.5 million gained by staffing efficiencies and policies adopted by Sheriff Kirk Imperati.

• Addressing homelessness with a multi-faceted plan that includes eight new positions, including Shelter Director, case managers and program specialists to provide necessary wrap-around services as the County works toward establishing a permanent Emergency Housing Facility for single individuals.

Funding is also included for an additional Housing Navigator position through Hudson River Housing (HRH) to help residents facing housing instability as well as funding for a vehicle to enhance HRH’s street outreach to homeless individuals.

• Creation of new affordable housing through the County’s Housing Trust Fund.

• Opioid settlement funds will be used for new and existing behavioral health and recovery efforts, including the County’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, recovery coach and peer support for those in recovery at the County’s Empowerment Center; start-up costs for Oxford House Recovery Homes for sober living; and funding for Access Supports for Living to expand the available number of treatment beds.

• Partnership with Family Services to provide two new programs to support strong family development including positive parent-child interactions, safe home environments and other family education:

o Safe Care, a home-based, evidence-based preventative service for families with children from birth to 5 years old

o “Family Check-Up,” an intervention service for families with children ages 2-17

• Expanded community partner support with a 4 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) funding increase for not-for-profit community partners who deliver a wide range of vital programming from domestic violence victim support to 4-H youth programming.

• $1.5 million for the successful Agency Partner Grant program for non-profits.

• $200,000 grant program to expand composting opportunities for residents with a matching grant program for municipalities to install and operate in-vessel aerobic composting equipment.

• Improve Dutchess County Public Transit bus service by eliminating inefficiencies on underutilized routes; increase trip frequency on the most utilized routes, expand hours to work and shopping destinations; increase availability of Flex Service with expanded weekday hours and new Saturday scheduling availability; while providing net County savings of more than $265,000. –

• Therapeutic meal delivery program for older adults to help meet specific nutritional needs, as prescribed by their healthcare provider; and implementing a transportation option to transport older adults being discharged from the hospital, from a dialysis center or for outpatient services when no other transportation option is available.

• Advancing the County’s commitment to young people and their development through additional summer camp experiences at Camp Nooteeming; continued participation in the Poughkeepsie Children’s Cabinet; and expansion of the Youth and Police Initiative.

• Continued outreach and recognition to Dutchess County veterans, including bringing a traveling Vietnam exhibit to Bowdoin Park in 2024 and hosting the third annual “Red, White & You!” veterans appreciation picnic at Camp Nooteeming.

• Completion of new and existing radio tower site construction and upgrades, as well as installation of system radio equipment to establish a common radio network providing interoperability and countywide coverage for all public-safety radio system users.

County Executive O’Neil will present the 2024 Executive Budget this afternoon at 4 p.m. in the Dutchess County Legislature’s Chambers. All 2024 Executive Budget documents, as well as a live stream of the Executive’s presentation, are available online for review at dutchessny.gov/2024budget. Following the County Legislature’s budget review process, the Legislature will hold a public hearing on Dec. 4 and will adopt the 2024 budget on Dec. 7; both meetings take place at 7 p.m. in the Legislature’s Chambers, located at 22 Market Street in Poughkeepsie.

Author: Harlem Valley News