Neuhaus: County tax rate down second year in a row
GOSHEN – After coming off of a few years of financial crises and
speaking of “righting the fiscal ship,” Orange County Executive
Steven Neuhaus sees the county now in an excellent position. He presented
his proposed 2018 county budget on Friday at the newly rebuilt county
government center in Goshen.
The presented $752 million budget, up from $735 million last year, shows
a decrease in the county tax rate, lowering it to approximately 3.83 percent,
the second consecutive year it declined, increases in sales tax revenue,
contractual obligations met, 5,500 less welfare cases and a decrease in
unemployment to 4.6 percent, among other things.
Although it was not so long ago that the county was having its bond rating
decreased, trying to figure out what was best for the Valley View nursing
home and navigating where money could, or should, be spent, Neuhaus said
that’s in the past and this budget marks a stabilization for the
“Two or three years ago we had all sorts of crises going –
cuts in federal and state funding, high unemployment, welfare through
the roof; now, we’ve had all these things stabilize, or going down.
It’s a lot more manageable,” said Neuhaus. “I feel like
I’m in my comfort zone as county executive now. I think the county
is in a better place and I’m excited where we are,” he said.
Approximately 36 percent of the county revenue is coming from sales tax
and with more business rapidly coming to the county, as well as Norwegian
Airlines at Stewart bringing international traffic, Orange County will
be focusing more on tourism. However, a large portion of the 2017 budget
has been distributed towards social services. Neuhaus said this is where
the largest portion of the budget will go and that the county is intent
on combating the opioid epidemic by evolving services.
County Legislative Democratic Minority Leader Matthew Turnbull commended
the Republican Neuhaus on his skill presenting the budget and while he
is happy to see the increased sales tax revenue; however, Turnbull thinks
when moving forward with budgeting for addiction services, there needs
to be a more concrete, progressive game plan.
“It was a great presentation. I think he hit a lot of high points,”
said Turnbull. “I think there was a little bit of bluster with the
opiate problem. We really need some meat and potatoes with that issue.
It’s serious and like people have said, that when it comes to the
serious issues, we’ve got to put down the campaigning process and
work together with solutions,” he said.
Turnbull said he and Neuhaus have convened on the future for combating
opioid addiction within the county.
Republican Legislature Chairman Stephen Brescia said Neuhaus “continues
to find innovative ways to reduce the cost of government while expanding
The budget will be reviewed by county lawmakers in the next several weeks
before a final spending plan is adopted.
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