Thursday, November 29, 2018

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Several budget amendments pass, some fail, in Dutchess Legislature committee

POUGHKEEPSIE – The Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee of the Dutchess County Legislature held a final review session prior to a probable vote next week on adopting the 2019 county budget by the full legislature.  More than a dozen amendments were approved, mostly in social services.  About a half-dozen failed.

One amendment approved, unanimously, would add a caseworker position in social services.

The commissioner of the department said when a vacancy occurs it can take a year to fill it because of the process of hiring and then training a qualified applicant.

Total impact of creating the position is about $47,000

Assistant Minority Leader Kristofer Munn supported the amendment.

“I felt that an additional position was warranted as they requested to help work on that caseload,” Munn said. “There is a delay since there is a lot of training involved and I don’t want to be here next year having the same conversation about the same high caseloads and God forbid, something happens to a child that could have been prevented in the meantime.”

Another approved amendment would look at, in cooperation with Orange County and the state, enhancing the Newburgh-Beacon ferry service.

Among the failed amendments, mostly on party lines with Republicans opposed, was one that would have, among other things funneled money for summer jobs.  That had the full support of Democrat Joel Tyner.

“Not all kids, not all youth have given up hope but a lot of them have. Risk of really sounding ultra silly corny, we have to get serious about restoring some hope.  I am embarrassed that less than half a million dollars right now in the county budget is allocated for summer jobs for at-risk youth.”

Tyner cited statistics from Chicago he says show that summer employment is one of the more effective ways of keeping at-risk kids out of trouble. 

Another failed amendment would have restored to the general fund about $450,000 that would have gone to the county Local Development Corporation for its tourism funding.  Minority Leader Hannah Black said the LDC has adequate funding.  Legislature Chairman Greg Pulver, a Republican, said cutting the money would amount to leaving tourism “out to dry for $450,000.”

Other failed amendments included funded the feasibility of setting up daily hazardous waste drop-off, and one that would have allocated $40,000 to professional services and consulting to study broadband enhancement and establishing a public bank.

A specific dollar total on the changes was not provided during the meeting but it is not likely to have a major impact on the bottom line of the $502 million budget that as proposed would cut the tax levy by about 2.6 percent. 

 


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