Friday, October 6, 2017

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Odell promises continued focus on quality of life, projects in 2018, with small tax increase


"We know what we are doing" proclaimed Odell

MAHOPAC – The Putnam County Golf Course was the venue for County Executive MaryEllen Odell’s presentation of her 2018 budget.  

Coming in at $155.3 million, spending is up $2.3 million over the adopted 2017 budget.  An average homeowner would pay $984 in county taxes, up just $22 over this year’s budget. 

Since the beginning of her administration in 2011, long-term county debt has fallen from $88 million to $75 million, a 15 percent reduction.  That happened, Odell said, while making significant additions to county resources and equipment. 

The news gets better.

“Year ending 2011, $17.2 million in short term debt this administration inherited,” Odell said.  “Today, year ending 2017, zero, 100 percent reduction.”

Strategies for keeping the solid fiscal stability going while meeting state mandates and need quality of life enhancements comprised most of Odell almost hour-long budget presentation before a mostly supportive audience of about 75.  They were impressed with one of Odell’s statistics – the county’s portion of a homeowners’ overall tax bill.

“That 9.1 percent is the lowest, the lowest county portion of any tax bill in New York State,” Odell proclaimed.

Specific points for balancing the 2018 budget ranged from an alternative to the current NISHIP plan for Medicare retirees, by switching to BENISTAR, for a savings of almost $7.8 million, to continuing an essential capital projects program, to reactivating the county IDA, to addressing ADA compliance issues at county facilities, and figuring out how to keep smart pigs from opening the gates of their Tilly Foster Farm cages by themselves, sending sheriff deputies out on sudden search and capture missions. 

Odell pointed the finger at the usual budget bad boy, state mandates, driving 70 percent of the budget.  The state-mandated tax cap, 1.84 percent this year, is not a problem, she said.  They have met it for five straight years. 

The budget is now in the hands of the county legislature.

 


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