Contreras signs $381.3 million Ulster County spending plan
Patricia Doxsey reports for the Daily Freeman that Acting Ulster County Executive Johanna Contreras December 21, signed the county's $381.3 million 2023 spending plan. Contreras said the budget invests in critical programs and services and will bring “stability, accountability, and responsibility” to a county government that has experienced unceasing change over the last three years. The spending plan carries what she called a “historic” three percent decrease in the amount to be raised by taxes, which will result in property tax rate decreases for property owners in in the county, as well as the city of Kingston. The $381.3 million budget was adopted by the county Legislature in early December after lawmakers made more than two dozen changes to the $378.6 million spending plan proposed by Contreras. The final budget increases spending by 8 percent over the 2022 budget. In a press release, Contreras said the budget invests emergency management, social services, environmental health, transportation, and public safety, and includes funding to support the crisis stabilization center, enhanced mental health services, expanded child care eligibility and a pilot program to provide home energy assistance. Contreras added 42 new full-time positions and the county legislators then added additional positions on top of those she called for including a second investigator to the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office, a new quality analyst position in the Comptroller’s Office, a technical support position in the legislative clerk’s office, a position to administer the agriculture crisis relief program, and the addition of four new caseworkers in the county’s Office For the Aging. The budget also creates an emergency services division within the Emergency Services Department to address the critical shortage of first responders able to answer medical calls countywide. The adopted budget also includes additional funds to cover the costs of pay raises for all the county’s elected officials except the district attorney, whose salary is set by the state. Read more in the Daily Freeman.