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William R. Steinhaus, County Executive
No Cuts to Community Service Providers Funding in Steinhaus' 2012 Budget Proposal
Poughkeepsie… Despite the challenges of crafting a 2012 budget that stays within the state imposed property tax levy cap, Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus has announced there will be no funding cuts to the 2011 levels provided to community based service providers for the wide variety of programs and services purchased by Dutchess County Government.
Steinhaus announced on Monday that his 2012 county budget proposal will tightly hold the county government portion of property taxes to within property tax levy cap limits. This follows Steinhaus’ 2011 budget which froze county property taxes at the 2010 level.
“My 2012 county budget proposal will maintain the current level of funding for the purchase of vital programs and services provided by various community agencies. We value the work of our local community agencies and are committed to our ongoing partnership to ensure cost effective and quality services are delivered to our residents,” said County Executive Steinhaus.
Dutchess County Government partners with numerous community agencies for the purchase of specific supplemental and complementary programming that either cannot, or is best not provided directly by government. Some program examples include domestic violence prevention, economic development and job creation, job mentoring, substance abuse prevention, mental health services, agricultural programming, literacy development and much more. These partnerships provide flexibility and can achieve a lower cost to taxpayers as well as provide long term cost savings in other operational areas. For example, investment in job creation programming can save money in social services public assistance programs and reduce caseloads.
Over the past several years, the serious financial challenges of declining revenues and increasing state mandated costs have led to significant spending reductions internally within Dutchess County government. County Executive Steinhaus has restructured Dutchess County government with bold reform initiatives that included the 2011 realignment of nine executive departments into just four departments. There have been no COLA or CPI wage increases for the majority of county employees in recent years. More than 173 county government positions have been eliminated since 2008 and county government now operates with fewer county employees than in the mid-1980s. Just as the programs delivered by county employees have had to be reduced or eliminated, ‘new normal’ budget realities have made it necessary to cut back on purchased county programs as well.
Many of the programs and services provided by community agencies are classified as “non-mandated” because state law does not require them. “What many of our state legislative representatives fail to understand is for every dollar that must be spent in state mandated costs, there is one less dollar available for discretionary services or local priorities,” said County Executive Steinhaus. “Ironically, it is these discretionary local programs and services that residents often view as the most important and further increases our anger and frustration with Albany politicians’ refusal to address meaningful state mandate reform.”
“Dutchess County has reached a point where we have cut our local priorities to the bone. However, there are still local needs we want to meet for our residents, which may even require a stronger commitment in targeted areas. We cannot allow Albany politicians to continue to punish us at the local level as a result of their inability to address out of control state mandates. Dutchess County government has been and will continue to restructure and realign wherever possible to control costs for property taxpayers. It is long past time for Albany to finally do the same,” concluded County Executive Steinhaus.
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