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Dinolfo Closes Budget Week With A Bang: Unveils A Better, Lower-Tax Budget For 2019

Dinolfo Closes Budget Week With A Bang: Unveils A Better, Lower-Tax Budget For 2019

Closing out Monroe County’s first-ever Budget Week, Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo presented her full Proposed 2019 Budget on Better Budgets Day. Her third since taking office as County Executive, Dinolfo’s 2019 Budget delivers the first County property tax rate cut in a decade, holds spending below inflation, reduces the County’s state mandate driven structural deficit, and does it all while fully-funding County investments in programs and initiatives to grow more jobs and support stronger families in the coming year.

Dinolfo’s 2019 Budget cuts the County property tax rate by ten cents, to $8.89 per $1,000 of taxable value, and will ultimately result in over $4 million in savings for local taxpayers.

“For the first time in a decade, we will be delivering a tax rate cut for our hardworking residents, families, and businesses in the coming year,” said Dinolfo. “At a time when homeowners are facing tax hikes at nearly every turn, Monroe County is doing its part to lessen the burden for everyone who calls our community home. I’m especially proud we were able to build this better, lower-tax budget while still fully-funding our efforts to grow more jobs and support stronger families in 2019 and beyond.”

Fiscal Responsibility Produces A Better, Lower Tax Budget

Dinolfo’s 2019 Budget is balanced, cuts the property tax rate, holds overall spending below the rate of inflation, and complies with the Monroe County Taxpayer Protection Act and New York State Property Tax Cap.

Thanks to Dinolfo’s continued top-to-bottom review of every function of County government, the 2019 Budget also effectively manages limited resources by streamlining services, implementing operational efficiencies, and securing sustainable savings for taxpayers.

Dinolfo’s 2019 Operating Budget, totaling around $1.23 billion, holds overall spending growth to 1%, well below the rate of inflation, calculated at 2.3% using the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

County Credit Rating Remains All “A’s”

Monroe County’s credit ratings remain strong, according to multiple international bond rating agencies. S&P Global Ratings released their latest report on the County’s credit standing in June, affirming the County’s ‘A’ rating while upgrading its long-term outlook to ‘Positive’ from ‘Stable’. Moody’s Investors Service upgraded the County’s credit rating from ‘Baa1’ to ‘A3’ in February, 2018 for the first time since 2012. Fitch Ratings, the third major credit rating agency, upgraded the County’s credit to ‘A’ in July, 2017.

According to both S&P and Moody’s, the improvement of Monroe County’s bond rating is attributed to the County’s commitment to fiscally-responsible budgeting and local economic growth. Both agencies recognize Monroe County as an economic driver in Upstate New York. Their analysis is rooted in the County’s strengthening economic standing, as well as a diverse and growing tax base. Ultimately, municipalities that boast stronger credit ratings and outlooks receive favorable interest rates in borrowing transactions, saving taxpayer dollars.

Bridging the Gap to a Balanced Budget

As state mandated costs continue to outpace the growth of local revenues, most New York counties will face a significant structural resource gap for 2019. In fact, Monroe County began its 2019 Budget process facing an approximately $21 million mandate-driven structural gap for the coming year.

The 2019 Proposed Budget balances county spending through a combination of cost controls and non-property tax bearing revenue enhancements, including: $10 million in savings from the effective management of County healthcare costs;
$4 million from the responsible sale of property tax liens; $4 million in growth from local sales tax receipts; $1 million in new interest income; and $2 million in annual savings achieved through the dissolution of Local Development Corporations.

As a result of forward-thinking financial planning, the 2019 Budget is also balanced without any layoffs, “one-shot” revenue enhancements, or new “below the line” service charges.

Mandate-Driven Structural Deficit Reduced Again

The 2019 Budget additionally succeeds in further cutting the County’s mandate-driven, long-term structural deficit in the coming year. The 2019 Budget reduces the County’s two-year forecasted structural deficit by $8 million to $28.4 million.

As a result, the County’s two-year forecasted structural deficit has been cut to just a quarter of the $106.2 million deficit projected just six years ago in 2012.

Ending LDCs Keeps Saving Tax Dollars

Dinolfo’s dissolution of several Local Development Corporations will continue to produce significant savings for taxpayers in the 2019 Budget. By ending duplicative contractual obligations, refinancing debt on more favorable terms to the county, and better managing costs by returning county functions to county control, the dissolution of several LDCs will save taxpayers over $2 million in the coming year. In total, Dinolfo’s decision to end Monroe County LDCs is anticipated to save local taxpayers over $31 million through 2034.

Mandated Spending Hurts Taxpayers and Our Economy

The single largest portion of Monroe County’s 2019 Budget is mandated spending, accounting for 85% of the County’s total spending for the coming year.

According to the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), nine state-mandated programs and services consume 99% of all property taxes collected across New York State, outside of New York City. Those programs include Medicaid, Public Assistance, Child Welfare, Indigent Defense, Pre-K Special Education, Probation, Early Intervention, Youth Detention, and Public Employee Pensions. High property taxes are a leading cause of the outward migration of residents and businesses from New York State.

New for the coming year, Monroe County’s 2019 Proposed Budget reflects the additional mandated cost of implementing New York State’s Raise the Age juvenile justice initiative. It has been projected that the capital costs associated with delivering new facilities, improvements, and equipment required to comply with Raise the Age will cost Monroe County taxpayers approximately $20 million. New personnel and programming costs will add at least an additional $11 million in annual, recurring expenses.

While the legislation that authorized the Raise the Age initiative promised full state reimbursement to counties for their Raise the Age costs, Dinolfo is asking members on both sides of the aisle in the Monroe County Legislature to join her advocacy to hold Albany to that promise in order to best protect local taxpayers.

Budget Week Comes to a Close

Earlier this week, Dinolfo kicked-off Monroe County’s first-ever Budget Week with More Jobs Day where she presented highlights of Monroe County’s 2019 investments in economic and workforce development. The event was hosted at the future headquarters of Innovative Solutions, Inc., a company whose expansion to the Riverwood Tech Campus in Henrietta is being aided by Monroe County economic development programming.

Dinolfo also presented highlights of Monroe County’s 2019 investments in services for local children and families at Stronger Families Day on Wednesday, October 31. The event was hosted at the Rochester Rehabilitation Center, a local non-profit in the human services sector that serves as a partner in the County’s unique Paths to Empowerment program.

Dinolfo’s Proposed 2019 County Budget will be considered for adoption at the Legislature’s December meeting.