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October 3rd, 2012

Orange County Executive Diana presents 2013 Executive Budget

Orange County Executive Edward Diana
GOSHEN - Orange County Executive Edward A. Diana formally presented his proposed 2013 Executive Recommended Budget to the Orange County Legislature and the general public on Friday, September 28th, at the County’s Emergency Services Center auditorium in Goshen. By County Charter, the County’s chief elected officer is required to present the budget for the coming fiscal year on or before October 1st each year.

County Executive Diana presented a proposed Operating Budget for Fiscal Year 2013 in the amount of $715.9 million which includes an increase of less than half of one percent over last year’s budget. Of this total budget, $375.6 million will be collected locally though sales and property tax. The County sales tax rate will remain unchanged at 3 ¾% and the property tax rate will be $3.55 per thousand. As a result, six of the County’s 23 municipalities will realize a decrease in their property tax, while 15 will increase by less than $.51 per thousand.

This is the 11th budget Diana has presented to the County Legislature. The County Executive has a proven track record of presenting common sense budgets that are balanced and on-time. “This was by far the most difficult budget I have ever presented in my career as a public servant,” said Diana. “When we thought the financial picture couldn’t get any worse, the mandates any more stringent, the demands any greater – when we thought there might actually be light at the end of the tunnel – we were wrong. If this were a movie, that light would be a train – headed our way.”

Diana expressed concern over the continuing impact of state and federal mandates. In Orange County, mandates account for $530 million or 74% of the total budget. Social Services programs alone require 91% of the County’s annual collection of tax dollars.

The proposed 2013 budget contains $25.6 million for New York State pension costs, up 11% from last year; that’s following a 12% increase in pension costs in 2011. Related employee benefit expenses included an additional $45.5 million budgeted for hospitalization costs and $5.9 million for Worker’s Compensation expenses. Total employee benefit costs projected for 2013 amount to $90.7 million.

Citing an on-going anemic economy, rising expenses, and New York State’s failure to provide reasonable reimbursements to public nursing facilities, Diana renewed his call to privatize the County’s public nursing facility.

The County Legislature has until November 15th to submit changes in the budget to the County Executive, and the County Executive has until December 1st to veto changes in the budget and to give notice to the County Legislature, while December 15th is the last day for the County Legislature to adopt the 2013 Orange County Budget.

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