Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro today released his 2022 Executive Budget at the Dutchess Community College Aviation Center at Hudson Valley Regional Airport in Wappinger, unveiling a proposal that includes more than $20 million in annual tax relief, including the largest property tax decrease in County history. In addition to eliminating County sales tax on clothing and footwear purchases up to $110, the Executive Budget cuts the tax levy by $5.5 million and reduces the County’s property tax rate by 10 percent – without any appropriation of fund balance or any reductions to programs and services.
The budget expands and enhances the high-quality County services on which residents have come to rely, and introduces new initiatives addressing mental health and substance use, among others, while continuing critical programs for children, families, seniors and veterans, as well as funding for County parks and other vital programming.
County Executive Molinaro said, “Years of sound fiscal planning have put Dutchess County in the enviable position of being able to reduce taxes so that residents can keep their hard-earned money. We have the ability to reduce the tax burden on residents, and that’s what my 2022 Executive Budget does – providing historic tax relief while keeping the unparalleled level of service our community deserves. This 2022 Executive Budget is the result of conservative fiscal planning, to bring results to County residents – in both the coming year and years to come – and I look forward to the County Legislature’s careful consideration during the review process.”
The 2022 Executive Budget includes the eighth consecutive County property tax reduction and provides the seventh straight property tax rate decrease for homeowners and businesses. The 2022 property tax levy, the amount the County collects in property taxes, proposed in the Executive Budget is $99.8 million, $5.5 million less than the 2021 levy, representing the largest decrease in County history.
The tax rate, which is calculated by dividing the property tax levy by full value assessments, will decrease by more than 10 percent from $3.18 to $2.85 per $1,000 of true value assessments as a result the tax levy reduction, as well as the continued growth in true value assessments (tax base). The County’s tax base has increased over the last seven years to $35 billion in 2022 with continued focus on economic development and job growth.
Total 2022 appropriations equal $528.4 million (which is in line with the County’s average 1.3 percent increase in annual spending since County Executive Molinaro took office in 2012). Despite the initial economic impact in 2020 of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dutchess County has seen revenues rebound strongly in 2021, with sales tax receipts well exceeding original projections year-to-date. The rebound of this revenue stream has enabled the County to fill many of the positions that had been held vacant in the past year and restore full position funding in the 2022 Executive Budget, expand and enhance programs, while also reducing the property tax levy – the amount collected from property taxpayers.
Among the programs and initiatives highlighted in the 2022 Executive Budget:
Breaking Through – Mental Health & Substance Use
The 2022 Executive Budget continues County Executive Molinaro’s commitment to breaking through the stigma surrounding substance use disorder and behavioral health challenges, making it easier for those living with those issues find their path to recovery.
County Executive Molinaro’s budget proposal includes the establishment of an Empowerment Center in the City of Poughkeepsie, a welcoming, non-clinical, peer-run facility to help those dealing with substance use challenges to find peer-to-peer support, groups that support multiple pathways to recovery, biofeedback therapy to enhance coping skills for stress and anxiety, and Bridge Device therapy to assist those transitioning into Medication Assisted Treatment programs, among other cutting-edge treatments. The Empowerment Center is a community-based approach and will continue the County’s effective use of recovery coaches – people with lived experience who themselves have found recovery and can support those currently battling substance use along their journey to rehabilitation. The Center will be available to residents weekdays, with recreation opportunities and weekend street outreach provided as well. In addition to innovative therapies, the Empowerment Center will also offer critical resources, such as housing support and job training skills.
The Executive Budget also provides funding to support the purchase of a Mobile Community Health Clinic – a traveling vehicle centered in the outlying communities in northern and eastern Dutchess County, but available to every community. This mobile unit will expand the County’s health services and allow recovery coaches to offer more residents full-service physical and behavioral wellness services, including infectious disease services and testing; immunizations, such as COVID-19 vaccinations; and intake screenings, referrals and links to community partners.
County Executive Molinaro has also included the addition of three crisis counselors to the team at HELPLINE, Dutchess County’s 24/7 hotline connecting residents experiencing a mental health or substance use issue to behavioral health professionals, providing even stronger staffing capabilities. Additionally, the County Executive’s budget creates a network of resources for those with disabilities, or their family members, who are living with substance use disorder to find treatment for their addiction.
Following the strides made in the past year, including the County’s purchase of the former YMCA site in the City of Poughkeepsie for the creation of a countywide Youth Opportunity Union (YOU), the 2022 Executive Budget reaffirms Dutchess County’s commitment to young people and families, including $500,000 expansion of the successful Learn, Play, Create: Supporting Our Kids grant program, among other programs previously announced. Initiatives include expansion of the evidence-based Youth Advocate Program, implementation of the City Connects program, expanded participation in the Families First Court Initiative and continued public outreach events about the YOU’s development and planning. Watch the Video.
Dutchess County will never forget the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who have protected our nation; and, as previously announced, County Executive Molinaro’s budget proposal expands access and support for veterans to obtain stable employment, housing, education, counseling, and transportation. The purchase of an additional vehicle for the VetZero transportation program in partnership with Hudson River Housing; funding for Mental Health America’s Housing, Employment, Reintegration and Outreach (HERO) program; continued partnership with MHA’s Vet2Vet program; continued support for the Tom Zurhellen Grant Fund; and funding to build a memorial along the Veterans Memorial Highway (Saint Andrews Road, CR-40A) in Hyde Park to honor the bravery of local veterans are among the initiatives included in the 2022 Executive Budget. Watch the video.
Other Budget Highlights:
$30 million investment in an Emergency Response Communications System, including equipment upgrades for local fire, EMS, and police agencies;
$24 million investment in the Capital Plan and operation budget for critical maintenance of County roads and bridges, including snow removal on 9,000 miles of local roadways;
$21.3 million investment in Dutchess Community College, including the “Think Ahead” program, and the new Aviation Management, Maintenance, Airframe and Powerplant Technician programs;
$3.9 million in domestic violence prevention services;
$3.5 million in Agency Partner Grant program funding, including the aforementioned $500,000 Learn, Play, Create: Supporting Our Kids expansion;
$1 million for new fire and rescue grant opportunity for first responders;
$100,000 to build much-needed system capacity in the home healthcare field to address the home health care worker shortage;
A pilot program to offer safe and simple at-home prescription drug disposal for seniors;
Continued investment in Dutchess County Parks, including an increase in park maintenance resources to keep up with rapid growth;
80 percent increase in funding for Adult Day Care;
34 percent increase in funding for the arts, including sensory-sensitive events, capital and capacity, and art education; and
10 percent increase in tourism funding.
Earlier this month, County Executive held three in-person town hall forums about his 2022 Executive Budget; and he’ll hold another such discussion, where residents can learn about key components of the 2022 budget, ask questions and share feedback on Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 6 p.m. at the Town of East Fishkill Town Hall, located at 330 Route 376, Hopewell Junction.