[scroll down a bit for innovative cost-savers we just can't afford to ignore, given current fiscal crisis--
unless you truly relish the prospect of even higher property taxes, more budget cuts, more layoffs!]
Miss these two from Saturday's paper?...
-- "Steinhaus Faults State Mandates on $50 Million Budget Gap" by Larry Hertz
-- "County Sales-Tax Revenue Dives 13.9%" by Joseph Spector
"Sales-tax collections for counties and the state dropped 8.3 percent in the third quarter, a troubling sign for governments already struggling with higher costs and declining revenue. The figures from July through September continue a precipitous drop in sales-tax revenue for governments and indicate that the economy is still struggling. It's the fourth consecutive quarter of sales-tax declines for the state. Dutchess County had a nearly 14 percent drop in sales tax over the quarter, one of the steepest falls among New York counties."
[click here for Steinhaus letter to Saland....(golly; whatever happened to "creating connections"?...lol):
http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/assets/pdf/BK144166109.PDF?GID=cfX27zm5Eav7QffDItcz/fEoiAuneKfytd9zBpxwXtw%3D ...and...click on http://www.ABetterChoiceforNY.org for REAL NYS solution!]
Oct. 1st Pok. Journal: "Mayors, Supervisors Say Steinhaus Plan Shifts Costs" by Jenny Lee-Adrian
"Town supervisors and mayors plan to fight County Executive William Steinhaus' 2010 budget proposals, which they say will pass costs down to municipalities. About 25 to 30 town supervisors, mayors and legislators met Wednesday to discuss Steinhaus' proposals that call for municipalities to pay for sheriff road patrols and partially pay for election costs - proposals he made last year. "It's safe to say there was absolute consensus among mayors and supervisors, Republicans and Democrats alike, we're going to send a very strong message to legislators we're against the pass-down of the cost of county services completely," said Town of LaGrange Supervisor Jon Wagner, president of the Dutchess County Supervisors and Mayors Association."
[Last year first Dem Co. Leg. majority in 30 years successfully beat back Steinhaus/G.O.P. attempt to force towns like Rhinebeck and Clinton to literally jack up local town property taxes six million dollars-- by passing along costs of sheriff patrols & elections to towns; trying to stop BS from doing this now too.]
[The fact is that the Democratic majority's proposed 2009 county budget cut spending by over five million dollars to keep the total property tax levy almost a million dollars below the 2008 levy-- and the County Executive's vetoes ended up adding six million dollars to the 2009 tax levy. Recall-- the County Executive's original budget (which all G.O.P. legislators went along with, by the way) would have raised sales taxes by $6.1 million countywide-- recall 42 signed on to http://www.petitiononline.com/stopcuts .]
Let's not forget the truth about the horror show of a budget Steinhaus submitted last Nov. for 2009:
[thx to Red Hook Co. Leg. Tom Mansfield for pullin' together these quotes below]
Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial (12/14/08):
"Steinhaus' $395.7 million budget proposal had elements that were simply unworkable." "He pitched his budget plan as a way of holding down property taxes - when, in fact, the plan would have raised property taxes on the local level by forcing municipalities to pay for more services."
Daily Freeman (11/3/08):
"A closer look at (Steinhaus' budget) shows the plan apparently fails to meet legal obligations, anticipates funding streams that don't currently exist and holds the potential for a shortfall reaching into the tens of millions of dollars."
Dutchess County Supervisors & Mayors Association (11/12/08):
They "met to discuss what financial impact the recently proposed 2009 Dutchess County budget might have on our respective municipalities. The sixteen Supervisors, Mayors and representatives gathered were consistent in their comments that day; the results could be disastrous. Specifically, shifting the cost of elections as well as the cost of routine Sheriff's road patrols to the municipalities may add tot he appearance of a zero tax increase for county taxpayers, but the fact is that it would only be a shift in cost to municipal taxpayers. The members of the DCSMA strongly believe that Dutchess County manages these services and should remain the taxing entity." "Adding the cost of County services to municipal budgets would necessitate raising municipal taxes, and likely force the cutting of municipal staff and services."
But-- perhaps most importantly-- to the true point of this email...
To me, all of the sturm and drang (ok-- some of it real, justified) we've been watching played out on the front page of our papers recently re: huge county budget gap looming-- means one thing to me...
We can't afford to play politics when it comes to looking at innovative ways to save tax dollars (especially ones proven to work elsewhere in the state)-- and we especially can't afford to elect this November candidates demagoguing good ideas in their zeal/quest for public office (like GOP, Dealy)...
Incredibly Republican/Conservative Pat Dealy has now publicly attacked all seven of these cost-savers.
[and...scroll down for fifteen other common-sense, innovative cost-savers he has failed to embrace too!]
'Tis true-- this past Wednesday night's debate at Rhinebeck High School Dealy attacked the notion of Dutchess County saving tax dollars by joining the Municipal Electricity and Gas Alliance, attacked the notion of Dutchess County saving tax dollars with a Canadian prescription drug option for county employees and retirees, attacked the notion of Dutchess County saving tax dollars with electrician licensing legislation, attacked the notion of Dutchess County saving tax dollars with Project Labor Agreements, attacked the notion of Dutchess County saving tax dollars with a bail loan fund, and attacked the notion of Dutchess County saving tax dollars with zero-waste approach to the DCRRA!...
[why?...each and every one of these has been been 100% proven to save tax dollars in counties below]
Again-- please read these-- and start zippin' those rebuttal letters out NOW...before it's too late, folks!...
-- 250 words to email@example.com [I can't get any more letters in until after 11/3]
-- 400 words to firstname.lastname@example.org [other county legislators' letters to editor printed-- not mine]
-- 300 words to email@example.com [more and more folks are reading this newspaper]
Fact: Dutchess County could save hundreds of thousands annually on electric bills for county buildings if the county joined the Municipal Electricity and Gas Alliance-- as Putnam, Ulster, Sullivan, 20 other counties across NY have done; NYS Association of Counties endorsed: http://www.MEGAEnergy.org .
[I actually got a resolution passed for this to happen last year; no PoJo coverage; Co. Exec ignored.]
Fact: Dutchess County could easily save $1,000,000 a year for local taxpayers merely by allowing county employees and retirees to be reimbursed for prescription drugs they can have option to get from Canada. Schenectady County has been doing this for five years now-- saving over a million dollars annually with this option-- with a smaller number there of county employees and retirees than compared to here in Dutchess County; G.O.P. Rensellaer County Exec Kathy Jimino spearheaded this there; Albany, St. Lawrence, Lewis counties too; see: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/SaveOnRx .
Fact: Dutchess County could save tax dollars with electrician licensing legislation-- proven already in Putnam, Greene, Rockland and Westchester counties; see: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/SafeWire .
Fact: A March 2007 due diligence report commissioned by our own county's Department of Public Works proved $770,000 could be saved with a Project Labor Agreement for construction at our county's Emergency Response Center & Highway Garage-- yet no Project Labor Agreement happened; note as well-- $3.5 million threshold means only 1 of every 20 county construction projects would be affected.
[see: http://dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2009/09/facts-re-plas-electrician-licensing.html ;
Fact: Dutchess County could easily save $1,000,000 a year with a bail loan fund here for some in our jail now merely accused of nonviolent misdemeanors (even the Daily Freeman strongly recommended this four years ago in response to idiotic, over-the-top G.O.P. attacks on this common-sense idea). Tompkins County's United Way agency Opportunities, Alternatives, and Resources (long supported by G.O.P. and Dems there) saved $466,000 last year alone in boarding-out costs (5300 incarceration days) for taxpayers there-- bailing out 70 there merely accused of nonviolent misdemeanors. Late last month there were still literally 55 inmates here in our own county jail unable to find enough funding in their support network to make bail of $2000 or less (roughly the ceiling for bail loans in Tompkins County). The vast majority of the judges in Dutchess County are Republican; anyone with bail set at $2000 or less is clearly not a serious threat to safety. Dutchess County now spends literally millions of dollars annually housing out inmates to facilities in other counties Often the vast majority of Dutchess County inmates being boarded out are unsentenced (not convicted yet)-- and yes, even Dutchess County Sheriff Butch Anderson recently told me personally he was upset about the increasing waste of taxpayer dollars with so many people sitting in our county jail that used to be bailed out for low amounts by employers or family-- but aren't any more because of the recession: http://www.OARTompkins.com .
Fact: Literally millions of our county tax dollars are spent annually on county contracts, given to companies (often from outside Dutchess County), who we're supposed to believe it's all a coincidence that they've often repeatedly made very large donations to the County Executive and/or the Dutchess County Republican Committee, according to public records at our County Comptroller's office and our county's Board of Elections. Even the Poughkeepsie Journal has twice now strongly editorialized for this to be addressed with a law here as in Rockland County-- a $100 limit on donations from vendors.
[see: http://dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2009/08/re-pay-to-play-in-dutchess-county-brand.html ]
Fact: Zero-waste approach to resource recovery saves tax dollars, create green jobs, cut carbon levels.
"Worcester (MA), Portland (OR), Seattle/King County (WA), Hawaii County, Oakland, and Los Angeles are all examples of communities that have rejected incineration, invested in recycling and composting, and have saved tax dollars as the costs of solid waste management have gone down. This has been accomplished because solid waste has been reduced by diverting materials to the private sector which hire workers, pay taxes and expand the local tax base. For example, Oakland has created over 1000 jobs in the last decade as a result of a rejected incinerator there and investing in recycling and composting. Austin, Texas in l986 rejected an incinerator and invested in recycling and composting. They lost $22 million when they cancelled the plant-- but saved $120 million over the 20-year proposed life of the plant." [Institute for Local Self-Reliance President Neil Seldman-- http://www.ILSR.org ]
[see Saturday's Daily Freeman on this:
Fact: The current costs for our Resource Recovery Agency are out of control-- over six million dollars to be paid this year on top of $11 million to be paid by system users. This adds up to a total cost of $125/ton-- much higher than any other publicly owned incinerator of the same size in the state (usually about $85/ton)-- and unlike all other publicly owned facilities, these costs do not pay off all of our county incinerator's debt; this debt goes on well after the incinerator's service agreements.
Fact: I led investigation of our county's Resource Recovery Agency this year-- and move to put $4.7 million of their budget into a special line in the 2009 budget-- to have only as little as possible allocated.
Fact: Ten years ago in a column I wrote for the Taconic Papers I exposed how $53 million was being flushed down the drain by our county's Resource Recovery Agency by refinancing our county incinerator through First Albany Bank without going proper Request for Proposal bidding-out process.
Fact: I voted in 2007 with Democratic Caucus against wasting millions of tax dollars by extending life of Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency bonds to 2027.
[and why did Dealy lie @ 9/23 debate saying the Green Ribbon report calls for shutting down DCRRA?
and why did Dealy lie @ 9/23 debate saying the Green Ribbon report calls for 2 new landfills in county?
see: http://dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2009/09/dealy-lies-3x-in-debate-fact-is-green.html ;
Green Ribbon report here-- http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/assets/pdf/BK142669916.PDF ]
Recall these great investigative exposé pieces from Pok. Journal's MB Pfeiffer over last several months:
May 10th: "Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency: Inefficient, Expensive, and in Debt"
May 31st: "Resource Recovery Agency: Padded Budgets or Solid Plans? County Subsidy Total is $5.4 Million More Than Needed Since '03"
July 12th: "No Bid Deals Might Add to Agency's Financial Trouble"
Fact: Zero-waste expands tax base in private sector-- "On per-ton basis, sorting/processing recyclables alone sustain 10 times more jobs than landfilling or incineration." [Institute for Local Self-Reliance]
[see: http://www.ilsr.org/recycling/recyclingmeansbusiness.html ]
Fact: More than two thirds of the materials we use are still burned or buried, despite fact we have technical capacity to cost-effectively recycle, reuse, or compost 90% of what we waste.
[see http://www.StopTrashingtheClimate.org ]
Pass it on-- up to you all now to help get the truth out, people!...
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Fifteen More Ways to Save Tax Dollars in Dutchess County (re: $50M budget gap; avoid tax hike!)...
1. Robust system of home care for seniors-- not institutionalization (avoid nursing homes if possible)
[ http://www.NYSenior.org; http://www.ADAPT.org (this came up at recent Taconic Resources forum)]
2. Health benefits consortium for towns, cities, and villages with county to save on employee costs
[see: http://www.tompkins-co.org/news/detail.aspx?ContentID=1111 -- as in Tompkins County; see:
3. Home Heating Oil Cooperative to help homeowners save on heating oil (as in Town of Cortlandt)
4. Keep lever voting machines (19 counties passed resolution since mine passed last Dec.)
[see: http://nylevers.wordpress.com/ http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/save_ny_levers help Andi]
5. Dutchess County Green Homes Program to make energy-efficiency retrofits, solar more available
[see http://www.LIGreenHomes.com ; http://www.CambridgeEnergyAlliance.org -- as in Babylon, L.I.]
6. Sustainable Energy Financing Districts for solar panels on homes (assessment on tax bills: Berkeley)
[ http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/mayor/GHG/SEFD-summary.htm ; http://www.PetitionOnline.com/SOLAR ]
7. TimeBank for area-- bartering network for community so unemployed folks with skills can find work
[see http://www.TimeBanks.org ; http://www.WoodstockTimeBank.org ]
8. Follow recent Northern Dutchess Alliance recommendation for "Community Reinvestment Report"
[see: http://www.northerndutchess.org/images/NDABlueprintWeb.pdf (see p. 82); banks accountable]
9. Reform county investment policy: make banks doing business w/county to report home loan policies
[see: http://www.co.rockland.ny.us/Legislature/LNews/09/021709.pdf (Rockland passed unanimously)]
10. Save tax dollars spent on services for homeless by keeping families in homes (and not foreclosed)-- with a pre-foreclosure mediation program similar to the extremely successful Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion program in Philadelphia (over 80% effective in keeping homeowners in houses).
[see: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/us/28philadelphia.html ; http://www.ACORN.org ]
11. Save tax dollars by investing in quality pre-kindergarten-- literally $17 for every $1 invested
[see: http://www.fightcrime.org/ny/nyissue_earlyed.php , http://www.winningbeginningny.org ]
12. Save a million dollars annually with bail loan fund for some accused of nonviolent misdemeanors
[see http://www.OARTompkins.com -- United Way agency in Tompkins has safely done this for years]
13. Save tax dollars: community-based intervention for low-risk youth-- as in Orange, Rensselaer Co.'s
[see: http://www.fightcrime.org/ny/jjevent.php , http://www.dys.ohio.gov/dysweb/ReclaimOhio.aspx ]
14. Save tax dollars housing homeless to keep out of jail, hospitals, mental hospital-- as in Westchester
[see: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/House1st , http://www.PathwaystoHousing.org ]
15. Save tax dollars to cut recidivism: job training, counseling, drug treatment Brooklyn, Lancaster, PA
[ http://www.petitiononline.com/comalert http://www.petitiononline.com/jobcourt http://www.PYHIT.com ]