Winter 2018 – 2019 Newsletter

Policies & Procedures

Water & Sewer Services

The State announced $10M in grants for projects throughout Dutchess County to improve and protect water and wastewater systems.  The grant includes an award to the Town of Wappinger in the amount of $2.4M for wastewater improvements.

The County is working with the Town of Wappinger & NYS DEC to address PFOA/PFOS contamination at the County Airport.  The County is in negotiation with NYS DEC to finalize the work plan. This work plan may require the County to perform mid- and long-term remediation work if the investigation determines that the source of the contaminants is from the airport.

Regarding Capital Projects

Back in April meeting, I reported to you my concerns with cost overruns for a new public defender’s office at 45 Market Street. The cost of the project went from $1.7M to more than $6M.

Now, it has been reported that the first phase of the Dutchess County Stabilization Center (DCSC) renovation at 230 North Road has cost the County $2.6M more than budgeted and the estimated cost for the second phase is more than six times the original budgeted amount.

The Legislature supports the DCSC, but we are concerned with the county’s massive financial miscalculation, stressing the cost taxpayers will incur for these errors.  While the bond language approved by the County Legislature gives full authority to proceed and complete the job, newly adopted procedures were implemented to ensure improved accuracy, transparency and accountability on future projects.

County Legislative Action

Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations

Making good on a commitment to promote clean, renewable energy, the County approved the purchase of four electric vehicles and ten hybrid electric vehicles this year including four charging stations at a cost of $100K each, bringing the project to $128K over 5 years.  Designated sites are in Beacon, Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck and Pawling. Residents who have electric cars are able to use the charging stations for a fee to a third-party provider. The county will receive 80% of the revenue and the provider will receive 20%. I’m proud to report, this will be a source of revenue for the county, creating a win, win situation!

Climate Smart Task Force Created To Take Dutchess County to Bronze Level

Following Dutchess’ Climate Smart Community designation by the DEC, the County created the Dutchess County Climate Smart Communities (CSC) Task Force. Our goal is to pursue a bronze-level certification within 12 to 18 months.  We will hold open quarterly meetings, so if you or anyone you know would like to participate or learn more, please contact me.

Fighting Opioid Addiction

As a follow-up to my letter calling on the County Executive to sue opioid manufactures for their role in the opioid epidemic and my letter to the State Legislature asking for support of State Bill Nos. S.7354/A.9576 – Drug Take-Back Act, the NYS Legislature passed Drug Take Back Act.  This will require drug manufacturers and pharmacies to provide pharmaceutical takeback programs to their customers and post warning signs about the potential dangers of opioid medication. This will also allow for additional drug disposal drop boxes throughout the Dutchess County. Many countries and local municipalities have passed similar legislation.

Salary Increases for County Officials

Currently, the law requires any pay changes to happen during an election year. On June 11, 2018, the Dutchess County Legislature voted 13-10 to allow pay raises for county elected officials to be increased in non-election years. I do not agree with this principle and voted no on the bill.

Dutchess Stadium

Dutchess Stadium is owned by the county and leased to the Renegades, but the land is owned by the Beacon City School District. Because of this, I believe a full audit of the stadium by the county comptroller and a Memorandum of Understanding from all parties are necessary before approving any additional funding for the Stadium. Earlier this month, the Legislature voted unanimously to approve a $2.4M bond to pay for much needed repairs. Especially important are upgrades for ADA compliance, to make publicly funded, public spaces welcoming for all.

Adoption of 2019 Dutchess County Budget

The 2019 Dutchess County Budget was adopted in a 19-5 bipartisan vote by the Dutchess County Legislature. The budget reduces the county property tax levy lowers the property tax rate from $3.54 to $3.45 per $1,000 of true value assessments while maintaining the County’s fiscal stability and essential services. No budget is perfect. While I voted for the budget this year, I do have concerns over the increase in spending, the rate of salary increases for management and confidential employees, and the crisis in the jail involving the safety of both the corrections officers and inmates. It is something to keep an eye on moving forward.

Legislative Amendments to the 2019 County Budget include:  

$85,000 for Dept. of Community & Family Services’ Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART) Program; $20,000 for expanded advertising for Dutchess County HELPLINE and Stabilization Center; $47,500 in additional funding for the Office for the Aging to expand Senior Friendship Centers’ operating schedules to five days-week beginning mid-year 2019; $105,352 for an additional Child Protective Services (CPS) Case Manager II position in the Department of Community & Family Services, including salary, stipend, and benefits; $97,506 for an additional Adult Protective Services (APS) Case Manager II position in the Department of Community & Family Services, including salary and benefits; and $112,140 for an additional assistant district attorney, including salary and benefits.