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Ulster Co. will finish the year with smaller budget shortfall than anticipated

Dec 24, 2020 5:45 am

Patricia Doxsey is reporting for the Daily Freeman Ulster County Finance Commissioner Burt Gulnick said the county is likely to end 2020 with a deficit that is a fraction of the shortfall predicted at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. In an interview on December 23, Gulnick said the county is now on track to see a $10.5 million or less budget deficit, rather than the $34 million shortfall predicted in April. But Gulnick disagreed with Comptroller March Gallagher, who reported the county could actually end up better off than in 2019. That year, the county finished the year with a $7.2 million deficit. A financial report released by Gallagher's office this week said the county began to bounce back financially from the worst of the pandemic during the third quarter of the year as outdoor dining and other businesses began to reopen and people began to return to work. Unemployment rates dropped during the third quarter as did the demand for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits and other social services programs. While she warned that the second wave of the pandemic now sweeping the region could affect the gains the county has made, Gallagher said for the most part it appears the county has weathered the storm. "The immediate outlook is a return to less activity over the winter as we face the COVID-19 surge, but the long-range impact is positive given coming vaccines," the report stated. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.