Leg­is­la­ture approves $502 mil­lion bud­get

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - Mid-Hud­son News Net­work and Free­man staff

The 2019 spend­ing plan re­duces the over­all prop­erty tax levy as well as the prop­erty tax rates.

The Dutchess County Leg­is­la­ture has adopted a $502 mil­lion county bud­get for 2019 that re­duces the prop­erty tax levy by about 2.5 per­cent and also re­duces prop­erty tax rates.

The levy, which is the to­tal amount to be gen­er­ated by county prop­erty taxes, is de­creas­ing for the fifth con­sec­u­tive year.

The county prop­erty tax rate will fall from the cur­rent $3.54 per $1,000 of as­sessed value to $3.45 per $1,000.

The bud­get ap­proval, by a 19-5 vote on Thurs­day, came af­ter about three hours of de­bate, largely re­gard­ing the county jail, its staffing level and whether money should be al­lo­cated for ad­di­tional po­si­tions.

Jail Ad­min­is­tra­tor Mike Wal­ters said putting $820,000 in the bud­get for 10 new po­si­tions, as rec­om­mended in an amend­ment, could be an act of fu­til­ity be­cause it can take up to a year to train a new jail em­ployee.

“So these po­si­tions that you’re look­ing to give us, we might not get ‘til Novem­ber, and if we’re lucky,” Wal­ters told leg­is­la­tors. “What we re­ally need now is to fill up the po­si­tions with part­timers. The rea­son we do part-timers right now is be­cause they’re eas­ier to train. We get them in, 120 hours of train­ing, we get right on. Within the year, we’ll give them their ba­sic train­ing, if they’re will­ing to stay, and we can keep them for as long as they want, and we can sched­ule them for the days we’re go­ing to need.”

The amend­ment to ear­mark fund­ing for ex­tra jail po­si­tions ul­ti­mately failed, with ma­jor­ity Repub­li­cans op­posed and mi­nor­ity Democrats in fa­vor.

Leg­is­la­tor Re­becca Edwards cited the jail is­sue as her rea­son for vot­ing against the full bud­get.

“This bud­get does not in­clude a so­lu­tion to what seems to be a cri­sis sit­u­a­tion in the jail in which peo­ple’s lives are at stake, and that in­cludes not only in­mates but peo­ple who work for the county who are our ded­i­cated cor­rec­tions of­fi­cers,” said Edwards, D-town of Pough­keep­sie.

The cur­rent jail on North Hamilton Street in Pough­keep­sie, which has strug­gled with over­crowd­ing for more than 30 years, is be­ing re­placed with a 569bed Jus­tice and Tran­si­tion Cen­ter that’s ex­pected to be com­pleted in 2023.

Among amend­ments to the county’s 2019 bud­get that were ap­proved by the Leg­is­la­ture were:

• $112,140 for an ad­di­tional as­sis­tant dis­trict at­tor­ney, in­clud­ing salary and ben­e­fits.

• $105,352 for an ad­di­tional Child Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices case man­ager, in­clud­ing salary, stipend and ben­e­fits.

• $100,000 to ac­cept ap­pli­ca­tions from agen­cies of­fer­ing sum­mer jobs and af­ter-school pro­grams for atrisk youths.

• $97,506 for an ad­di­tional Adult Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices case man­ager, in­clud­ing salary and ben­e­fits.

The amend­ments are be­ing funded by the county’s fund bal­ance, with some state and fed­eral re­im­burse­ment.

The bud­get ap­proved Thurs­day now goes to County Ex­ec­u­tive Marc Moli­naro for his sig­na­ture or pos­si­ble ve­toes.

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