Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus recently released his proposed $813 million operating budget for fiscal year 2021. The County tax rate will be $3.558, which is lower than it was both last year and in 2014, when Neuhaus took office.
“Despite significant challenges and unknowns, my 2021 budget reduces spending and lowers the County tax rate,” Neuhaus said. “The rest of this year and through 2021, we will continue to face considerable fiscal challenges. State lawmakers have shifted sales tax revenues that we would have received to support distressed hospitals that may not be in Orange County, and they continue to force costly mandates on counties. This continued burden Albany is placing upon our hard-working property taxpayers must end.”
The County’s finances have been stabilized during Neuhaus’ seven years in office, even while settling union contracts, re-opening long closed bridges, making highway safety improvements, and dramatically expanding tourism related initiatives. Additional highlights of the 2021 proposed budget include:
- The County’s unassigned fund balance is now $54.9 million. The fund balance has more than doubled since Neuhaus took office, 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 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 is under the tax cap.