POUGHKEEPSIE – The 2024 Dutchess County Budget was adopted by the County Legislature by a bipartisan vote of 15-9 Thursday evening (with Legislator Llaverias absent for the vote), passing a $601 million spending plan that provides sustained property tax relief for residents and maintains the County’s high-caliber services and programs for children, families, veterans, seniors and vulnerable populations, among others.
The 2024 budget includes the 11th straight property tax rate decrease and the 10th consecutive property tax levy reduction and maintains the sales tax exemption on clothing and footwear items under $110 each. As previously announced, the 2024 County Budget focuses on serving the needs of Dutchess County residents, including funding to address housing and homelessness, enhance public safety, support law enforcement, expand composting opportunities, and continue critical partnerships with community collaborators. Legislative amendments further increased funding for veterans, law enforcement, at-risk youth, and tourism among other initiatives.
County Executive William F.X. O’Neil said, “This is a reasonable budget that not only takes into consideration the needs of all our residents, but funds them in the most responsible manner possible. This budget upholds more than a decade of competent stewardship of residents’ hard-earned dollars, which they entrust to their County Government, while ensuring they are spent in the most cost-effective way. I thank our partners in the County Legislature for their earnest scrutiny over the past month, culminating in this adoption.”
The 2024 budget deals with the multi-million-dollar impact of ever-increasing mandated costs that New York State requires counties to pay. For 2024, additional costs from New York State added more than $16 million of expenses to the County’s budget and these cost increases are certain to continue as State officials warn of mounting budget deficits. To offset added costs from the State, counties must either identify additional revenue or reduce program and services expenses, which would have to come from non-mandated areas, such as mental health services, 911 emergency dispatch, road and bridge maintenance, parks and recreation or law enforcement, and for the 2024 Dutchess County Budget, such service reduction would equate to over 70 layoffs.
To fund the added State mandated costs and avoid layoffs and service reductions, the 2024 budget will adjust Dutchess County sales tax from 3.75 percent to 4 percent, slated to be effective June 2024, pending approval by the State Legislature. This change will generate an additional $8.3 million in sales tax revenue for 2024 and provide annual revenue of $14.2 million to offset state cost shifts. The sales tax rate change will also result in additional County revenue to local municipalities – as Dutchess County shares its sales tax revenue with its 30 towns, cities and villages – providing an additional $1.7 million to offset local budgets in 2024, and approximately $3 million annually thereafter.
The budget also increases the County’s hotel tax, paid primarily from visitors to Dutchess County, from 4 to 5 percent, estimated to result in $4.8 million in total revenue in 2024.
County Executive O’Neil submitted his Executive Budget proposal to the County Legislature on November 1st, and over the past five weeks, the Legislature’s Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee has held budget review meetings and made several changes to the budget proposal. The final legislative changes were made through a series of amendments to the Executive’s proposal.
Legislator Michael Polasek said, “As Chair of the Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee, I am proud of the work that was done to help craft the 2024 Budget and to have cast my vote in support. Our committee spent countless time meeting with departments to ensure that each dollar allocated was spent responsibly and best serves the taxpayers. Not only does this budget continue to fund essential services, but it continues to offer property tax reductions and expand resources for our community.”
Legislative Amendments to the 2024 County Budget include:
* $500,00 delineated in contingency funding specifically for Board of Elections expenses;
* $417,587 to adjust the salaries of County elected officials;
* $350,000 for the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office for road patrol overtime;
* $200,000 in reclaimed funds from Agency Partner Grant program for the Department of Planning and Development for a competitive grant program;
* $100,000 for the Division of Veterans Services for a competitive grant program for nonprofit organizations or municipalities to make general capital infrastructure investments to facilities that serve veterans or for therapeutic animal programming for veterans;
* $50,000 for the Department of Planning and Development for the creation of a “Stay Local” promotional campaign through Dutchess Tourism, Inc.;
* $45,000 for the Department of Community and Family Services to provide grant funding for after-school programming for at-risk youth;
* $25,000 for the Department of Community and Family Services in additional Path to Promise mini grants;
* $20,000 for additional Human Rights Commission activities;
* $26,560 for the Department of Behavioral & Community Health to hire a part-time Recovery Coach to work with young adults ages 18-25;
* $3,000 for enhanced communication for domestic violence victims;
* $2,000 for the Department of Behavioral and Community Health to expand existing compliance checks of under-age sales of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis; and
* $2,000 for the Division of Veterans Services for the development of a Veteran Challenge Coin program.
The above amendments were funded with appropriations from the County’s general fund balance, the County’s debt reserve, Department of Motor Vehicle fees and State reimbursement for under-age compliance checks.
Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver said, “I am proud to have voted in favor of the 2024 County Budget – and my last one as the Legislature Chairman. After an extensive review process, I believe this budget best prepares Dutchess County for not only the next fiscal year but sets us in a position for success in future years. By making meaningful decisions, the Dutchess County Legislature reaffirmed its commitment to enhancing the life of all our Dutchess County residents.”
The budget, with amendments, will now be forwarded to County Executive O’Neil for review and signature. The final step in the 2024 Dutchess County Budget process, override consideration of any amendment vetoes by the County Executive and the adoption of the tax levy, will take place on Monday, December 18 at the Dutchess County Legislature’s Board Meeting.