Neuhaus Proposes 2019 Orange County Budget

GOSHEN – Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus released his proposed $798 million operating budget for fiscal year 2019 last week. The County tax rate will be $3.83, which is lower than when Neuhaus took office, and the same as last year.

Neuhaus delivered his budget presentation at the Orange County Government Center’s Legislative Chamber in front of members of the County Legislature, County employees, representatives of the business community and the public. The 2019 Executive Budget stays within the tax cap and does not raise the County property tax rate.

“The proposed County budget meets the hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded mandates created by State Legislation,” Neuhaus said. “It also continues to focus on public safety and tourism development.”

Neuhaus added: “Albany mandates and micromanages too much. Conversely, Orange County has increased what we do to assist our local governments. We have increased our 911 dispatching service to municipalities, augmented the assistance we provide for local assessments and increased the amount we share in sales tax, even as other counties have reduced their sales tax sharing.”

The County’s finances under Neuhaus have been stabilized during his five years in office even while settling union contracts, re-opening long closed bridges, making highway safety improvements, and dramatically expanding tourism related initiatives. In addition, the County is expanding its support of SUNY Orange by more than $500,000. Orange County contributes more than $5 million more to SUNY Orange than the State does, even though the State share was supposed to match the County share.

“I commend the County Executive for once again putting together a balanced and efficient budget,” Chairman of the Legislature Steve Brescia said. “Five years ago, we were in a deep hole financially. Working together, we have dug our way out of it. We look forward to the Legislative review process and the adoption of the 2019 budget.”

Additional highlights of the 2019 proposed budget include:
* The County property tax rate is expected to remain the same as last year.
* The County’s unassigned fund balance has increased to $50.2 million, which is an increase of $6.5 million from last year. The County’s fund balance has more than doubled since Neuhaus took office, back to State recommended levels.
* Sales tax revenue has increased $14.5 million since 2014, which has benefited municipalities throughout the County.
* The County will budget $4.1 million in 2019 for hotel occupancy tax, an increase of $1 million from 2014. The County has aggressively pushed tourism initiatives as a result of Neuhaus’ focus on tourism and economic development.
* The median home price rose $15,000 in Orange County over the past year.

The Office of the State Comptroller recently notified Orange County that its fiscal stress score continues to decrease, another successful financial indicator.

“Orange County’s budget has been honestly balanced since I took office,” Neuhaus said. “Working with my partners in the Legislature, our fund balance is being restored to State recommended levels, and Moody’s has said our finances are now stable. We have invested heavily in infrastructure, shared record levels of local aid to our Cities, Towns, and Villages, and made tourism development a significant focus which is showing tangible results.”

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