Ulster lawmakers adopt $381,34M budget for 2023
Patricia Doxsey is reporting for the Daily Freeman Ulster County lawmakers adopted a county budget for 2023 that increases by $2 million the spending plan proposed by Acting County Executive Johanna Contreras. However, the property tax cut proposed in the executive plan will remain in place. The $381,342,516 budget was adopted by the Legislature on a vote of 20 to 2 after lawmakers made more than two dozen changes to the plan as proposed by Contreras. The adopted budget increases spending by 8 percent or $28.4 million over the county's existing financial plan. Contreras said the budget “reinforces county government’s commitment to serving our residents by investing in essential services and doing our part to relieve the financial pressures that residents are feeling." Legislator Joseph Maloney, a Democrat, criticized the budget as wasting spending too much of the taxpayer’s money without regard for the future. He said legislators failed to do their due diligence in reviewing a spending plan by not looking “inward in the budget.” Minority Leader Ken Ronk said, “I think there were missed opportunities. I think there were some misplaced priorities, but overall I think it was a good budget and to me, the positives outweigh the negatives ...." The budget adopted by legislators included the addition of $663,351 for the creation of an emergency services division within the Emergency Services Department; and the addition of $171,345 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. Legislators also voted to add a second investigator in the District Attorney’s Office. Another change was the elimination of the constituent service navigator division created during the COVID-19 pandemic to respond to the hundreds of calls to the county for information and services, the creation of a centralized arraignment program, and additional funding for the Ulster County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spay/neuter program. Despite the increased spending, the adopted budget maintains the 3 percent reduction in the amount to be raised by taxes proposed in the executive plan. The budget now goes to Contreras for final consideration. She will have five days to either allow it to take effect or to veto any changes made by legislators. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.