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The County Account

Preventing foreclosure

Foreclosures increased in Dutchess County by 17.6 percent in 2012 from 2011. Of these 1,096 foreclosed properties, 154 came into county control and the county Legislature voted to place them up for public auction in an attempt to recoup unpaid taxes. By Real Property Tax Law the county acquired these properties through the in rem procedure for delinquency in paying property taxes. The occasion gave the Legislature one of several opportunities in recent months to discuss the poor economy and its effect on the housing market.

Consumer protection

The past few months the ever-wobbling balance between consumers and business has been receiving a fresh look in the chambers of the Dutchess County Legislature. The Legislature initially established consumer protection practices in Dutchess County in 1991. On our agenda has been two bills that would seek to modify the item-pricing system used by supermarkets and impose accurate street advertising of gasoline prices for both cash and credit at gas stations.

Item pricing

Legislature adopts 2013 county budget

After five weeks of legislative scrutiny and a board meeting that included five-plus hours of legislative debate, the 2013 Dutchess County budget was adopted at 12:25 a.m. on the morning of Friday, Dec. 7.

The $409 million spending plan comes in at 0.2 percent lower than the $411 million 2012 county budget, but still raises taxes in the face of rising costs. The property tax levy will rise 2.1 percent to $105.9 million, which while under the state-imposed property tax cap, will be felt by property owners as an increase equal to about 6 percent depending upon assessed values.

County budget set to prune human services in 2013

County Executive Marcus Molinaro’s $408.3 million spending plan for 2013 proposes to raise property taxes by 2.025 percent, implement a new mortgage tax at 0.5 percent and assure the pruning of the delivery of human services via $7.6 million in spending cuts. Inherent to these spending cuts are layoffs, program eliminations and changes to hours of operations that will scale back the availability and offerings presently offered by the human service departments of mental hygiene and social services.

Crime and the budget

Legislators are busy at work this week meeting with department heads, analyzing the proposed 2013 county budget before a budget adoption in early December.

The $408.3 million spending plan, prepared by the Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro, reduces spending by $7.6 million but proposes to raise property taxes 2.025 percent while also imposing a new 0.5 percent mortgage tax.

Inherent in the plan are significant changes to government operations including the following impacts to the criminal justice system.

New approach to the jail

The 2013 county budget plan released

The County Account

November is here, and that means that lawmakers in the Dutchess County Legislature are busy scrutinizing the details of Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro’s 2013 budget plan. Departmental budget scrutiny is taking place daily followed by amendments, which will result in an adopted county budget in early December.

This year’s budget was particularly difficult due to last year’s over-reliance on a $23 million fund balance (reserve monies) producing a $40 million budget gap. The county executive’s proposed budget overcame the budget cap, however, through various means including:

History rises and falls at October legislative meeting

The cause for historical preservation received both a boost and a setback at the October meeting of the Dutchess County Legislature. Therein the Legislature confirmed Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro’s appointment as the county’s first full-time county historian, a position long vacant. It also voted to bond the demolition and razing of the historic Nelson House Annex, a decaying structure on Market Street that stands between the county office building and the Dutchess County Family Court.

County’s regimental role in the Civil War is remembered

Events commemorating the 150th anniversary of Dutchess County’s regimental role in the Civil War are being held this month.

County’s September budget implications

During the month of September, Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro began meeting with legislators and business groups to unveil portions of his 2013 Executive Budget that will be publicly released in late October. Due to a $40 million budget gap it is expected to have a sting on several fronts. Already local municipalities have had their sales taxes capped. Additionally, layoffs and tax hikes are expected in an effort to bridge the gap.

Two items on the September legislative agenda will have directly affected the 2013 county budget and a third will affect budgets starting in 2014.

County to withhold tax revenues from towns

In the early days of September, town supervisors and village and city mayors across the county received daunting news in the mail. The county executive informed municipalities that in an effort to balance the county budget, he as the county’s chief financial officer would be shortchanging the amount of sales tax revenue that they will receive this year. My phone started ringing the next morning. The discussion continued this month as I made my rounds to town board meetings.