Proposed 2023 Ulster County budget cuts property taxes

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Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras unveils her proposed 2023 budget

KINGSTON – Ulster County’s financial position “has never been stronger,” yet the county faces a number of challenges going forward. That was the message from Acting County Executive Johanna Contreras on Tuesday as she unveiled the county’s proposed 2023 budget of $378.5 million.

The spending plan is up seven percent above this year’s, yet because of strong financial reserves, the county will be able to invest for the uncertain future, she said.

“We’re facing an ongoing and worsening housing in Ulster County, leading residents to pay a larger and larger share of incomes on housing, or to leave the county all together. Inflation has squeezed household budgets even more than usual,” she said. “Our friends, family and neighbors continue to suffer from mental health challenges and substance use disorders at alarming rates, and the effects of climate change are becoming more and more tangible from droughts to wildfires to unprecedented storms.”

Because of the strong reserves, Contreras said her budget includes an additional $17 million toward housing and green growth; $7.5 million for transportation and mobility needs; $10 million more for mental health and substance use; $7.5 million for workforce development; $5 million for community resiliency; and $25 million for capital projects.

Adding to the county’s fiscal strength are 10 percent per year sales tax growth in the last two years, compared to an average of four percent, and a 65 percent increase in the room tax since 2019.

The county legislature must now scrutinize the spending plan before modifying and adopting it.