Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus released the following statement on Thursday, Dec, 3, in response to the County Legislature unanimously adopting the 2021 Executive Recommended Budget with a vote of 21-0.
Neuhaus introduced his $813 million budget on Oct. 1.
“2020 has presented our County Government with challenges never seen before,” Neuhaus said. “COVID-19 has reshaped our reality and transformed our County Government operations. All departments are to be commended for their tireless work in 2020. We will continue to face considerable fiscal challenges in 2021 due to the costly mandates forced upon counties by state lawmakers. We urge our legislators in Albany to make real mandate relief a priority for the sake of all New Yorkers.”
The county tax rate in 2021 will be $3.558 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which is lower than it was both last year and in 2014, when Neuhaus took office.
Other highlights of the proposed 2021 budget include:
· The county’s unassigned fund balance is now $54.9 million. The fund balance has more than doubled since 2014 and is back to state recommended levels.
· Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Moody’s Investors Service, the financial services ratings company, stated that the county is not susceptible to immediate credit risks related to the coronavirus. Moody’s noted that the county benefits from ongoing economic expansion and tourism.
· The County has avoided layoffs and saved $2 million through an early retirement incentive negotiated with the CSEA, which 64 county employees utilized. In addition, 282 vacancies saved $13.4 million in 2020. Seventy-nine county employees took furloughs over two months, saving $427,000.
· The County remains under the tax cap.
· The 2021 budget is $3 million less than the 2020 budget.