Hein’s 2017 Ulster County budget lowers taxes again


Hein’s proposed 2017 budget would lower property taxes again

KINGSTON – You can call Michael Hein’s annual budget package
“Honey I shrunk the Tax Bill.” The 2017 proposed budget, presented
by the Ulster County Executive on Friday, lowers property taxes by 0.25
percent from last year.

The bottom line, $324.82 million, is down $5.55 million from last year.
That was no easy task, Hein explained, since revenues are also down by
an almost equal amount, $5.57 million. Hein has lowered taxes every year
since 2010.

Officials put the squeeze on Social Services, DPW, and the Sheriff’s
Office to make ends meet. Targeted retirement incentives will also help
pay for the savings, Hein explained. Other initiatives utilized smart
downsizing and shared services to save money.

Health insurance costs will rise $4.5 million this year, and the safety
net relief to towns will cost $7.2 million more in 2017. Since 2013, Ulster
County has lifted the safety net burden from local municipalities by a
total of $29 million.

A big chunk of change is expected, if voters approve moving the Family
Court complex from Uptown Kingston, over to the county-owned Business
Resource Center on Albany Avenue, Hein said. An estimated $10 million
to 20 million will be saved, according to reports.

The 2017 plan also includes additional investment in county infrastructure.
A total of $15 million more will be spent on bridges, roadways and sidewalks,
bringing the three-year total to $46 million.

Hein has established a contingency plan to hedge against a possible crisis
involving the sales tax extension, due for renewal by the state legislature
in June. Any delay caused by political jockeying between politicians could
create a multi-million dollar shortfall.

“[The 2017 budget] is designed to be a thoughtful driven spending
plan, that as always puts the best interests of the people first,”
Hein said. “But to insure long-term sustainability, this budget
will continue to require us to embrace reform and shared sacrifice,”
he said. “We still have much work ahead.”

The county executive added that his entire team now looks forward to rolling
up their sleeves and working diligently with the Ways and Means Committee,
and legislative body to insure the best possible budget for citizens.

“And in the process, we will never forget, that it is not our budget;
it’s not our government,” Hein said. “Instead we have
the honor and privilege to work for the great people of Ulster County;
it’s their money, it’s their budget, and they have every right
to demand the best.

“The devil is always in the details, and the legislature is going
to do our due diligence,” noted Chairman Ken Ronk after the presentation.
Minority leader Hector Rodriguez said the legislature will be working
on what appears to be a structurally sound budget, “a common-sense
budget that we could all live with.”

Popular Stories