Dutchess legislative Dems criticize Molinaro’s proposed 2019 budget

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POUGHKEEPSIE – Democratic
Party leadership on the Dutchess County Legislature is blasting the proposed
2019 county budget proposed by Executive Marcus Molinaro.

Minority Leader Hannah Black said Molinaro’s budget uses $8.5 million
in fund balance transfers “to cover up a recurring structural deficit”
in his budget while setting aside nearly 20 percent of the general fund
balance – $10 million – in the hopes that extra tax revenue
and other savings will be realized.

Black also said despite “record spending of over half a billion
dollars,” the spending plan includes no new initiatives to fight
the opioid epidemic “while it continues to grow his own office’s
budget, which has grown to 150 percent of the 2012 baseline.

The Democrats are concerned with the use of $4 million from a debt reserve
fund, usually held in reserve for fiscal emergencies, “in order
to reassure investors that bond payments will not be at risk. To unnecessarily
dip into a debt reserve fund could hurt our bond rating and raise interest
rates on future debt,” said Black.

Democrats also called for the county legislature to resume the practice
of having an independent budget review, ended in 2012 when Molinaro took
office.

The minority party is also concerned with the budget including “no
new initiatives of note” to fight opioid abuse. Instead, they said
it “relies heavily in ‘continuing’ and ‘maintaining’
prior efforts.”

Black said it is time “to turn this crisis around with making it
our main focus,” Black said.

The Democrats also called for expanding the Agency Partnership Grants
to support “vital community agencies, especially those supporting
youth.”

They called for a climate change action plan with a full-time climate
smart coordinator that would bring “considerable state funding to
tackle environmental issues including green job creation, green energy
production, green infrastructure and building practices, responsible waste
disposal, and climate change preparedness.”

“When you look at the budget, there’s no consistent, overriding
structure to the whole thing providing for long-term, fundamental solutions
to the problems the county faces,” said Legislator Frits Zemike.
“Instead, it’s a bunch of band-aid style fixes.”