Monroe County News Release
Unveiling an aggressive blueprint to build an even better Monroe County, County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo presented a balanced, flat-tax budget for 2018. Her second since taking office as County Executive, Dinolfo’s 2018 Budget keeps the County property tax rate flat, holds spending below inflation, fully-funds the County’s job growth programs, economic development initiatives, and quality of life services, and reflects savings achieved through the dissolution of Local Development Corporations (LDCs).
In announcing the Budget, Dinolfo previewed the launch of several new initiatives for 2018, including the Excel Center, our region’s first-of-its-kind adult education and skills training program, and Make Monroe Home, a collaborative new public-private partnership to rehabilitate and return zombie properties to active ownership. The 2018 Budget also reflects funding to support the hiring of additional Toxicologists in the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office and will fully-fund Dinolfo’s previously-announced CPS Eight Point Plan.
“When I took office as County Executive, I said I would take a good, hard look at every part of county government and make it work better for you,” said Dinolfo. “Today I am presenting a balanced, flat-tax budget for 2018 that takes my good government pledge to the next level. From protecting taxpayers to promoting job growth, this budget is a blueprint that we can use to build an even better Monroe County together in the coming year.”
Flat Tax Promise Made, Flat Tax Promise Kept
For the second straight year, Dinolfo is honoring her commitment to protect local taxpayers by proposing no property tax rate hike. The 2018 Budget again holds the Monroe County property tax rate flat at $8.99 per $1,000 of assessed value.
“In each of my first two years in office, I’ve delivered a flat-tax budget to protect taxpayers, families, and jobs in every corner of our community,” said Dinolfo. “My flat-tax promise is the key to building a better, more affordable Monroe County that welcomes employers to grow jobs and investment here for years to come.”
Full Investment in Local Jobs and a Growing Economy
In 2018, Monroe County will invest nearly $2.5 million in its Department of Planning and Development, which administers many of the County’s economic development and workforce development programs, services, and initiatives. These include several innovative programs launched by Dinolfo to grow more jobs and a stronger workforce in Monroe County, including LadderZup, Recruiting on the Road, and JobsOne, among others.
“As we work to build a better Monroe County, nothing is more important to me than making our community a great place to find jobs and opportunity,” said Dinolfo. “This budget fully-funds our economic development efforts in 2018, including our LadderZup, Recruiting on the Road, and JobsOne programs. Our work to attract jobs will continue tirelessly next year. I will not rest until employers everywhere know Monroe County is open for business.”
Through the Department of Planning and Development last year, Monroe County assisted in the creation of more than 850 local jobs and the retention of over 4,500 local jobs, generating a 99 to 1 private to public investment ratio. Monroe County also placed more than 7,000 workers in employment and offered training to more than 850 job seekers.
Fiscal Responsibility Protects Taxpayers and Attracts Jobs
The 2018 Budget is balanced, keeps the property tax rate flat, holds overall spending below the rate of inflation, cuts the structural deficit, and complies with the Monroe County Taxpayer Protection Act and New York State Property Tax Cap. Thanks to Dinolfo’s continued top-to-bottom review of every function of County government, the 2018 Budget also effectively manages limited resources by streamlining services, implementing operational efficiency, and securing sustainable savings for taxpayers.
“Building a better Monroe County starts with producing a balanced budget for 2018 that keeps the property tax rate flat, holds spending below inflation, cuts the structural deficit, and makes county government more efficient than ever before,” said Dinolfo. “By running government more like a business, we are sending a clear message to employers that Monroe County will remain an affordable place to locate jobs for the long haul.”
Dinolfo’s 2018 Operating Budget, totaling nearly $1.2 billion, holds overall spending growth to 1.3%, well below the rate of inflation, calculated at 2.2% using the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The 2018 Monroe County Budget is also in full compliance with the Monroe County Taxpayer Protection Act and the New York State Property Tax Cap.
The 2018 Budget additionally succeeds in further cutting the County’s long-term structural deficit in the coming year. The 2018 Budget reduces the two-year forecast structural deficit by $8.2 million to $36.4 million. As a result, the County’s two-year forecast structural deficit has been cut to less than half of the $106.2 million deficit projected just five years ago in 2012.
Because of forward-thinking financial planning, the 2018 Budget is also balanced without the use of “one-shot” revenue enhancements or new “below the line” service charges.
Mandated Spending Threatens Taxpayers and Hurts Jobs
The single largest portion of Monroe County’s 2018 Budget is mandated spending, which accounts for 85% percent of the County’s total spending for the coming year.
“Mandated spending is just another name for the costs that counties must cover when Albany passes the buck to property taxpayers, hurting local jobs and our economy,” said Dinolfo. “With 85% of our budget mandated, the County will control only 15 cents of every dollar we spend next year. Mandates are a huge obstacle to building a better Monroe County, so I’m again asking Albany to deliver mandate reform as soon as possible.”
Monroe County began its annual budget outlook for 2018 facing a $23 million structural deficit, driven in large part by state mandated spending. To overcome this deficit, the County is utilizing a combination of operational efficiency and non-property tax bearing revenue enhancements to bring the budget into balance while protecting local taxpayers.
Ending LDCs Keeps Saving Tax Dollars
Dinolfo’s dissolution of several Local Development Corporations will continue to produce significant savings for taxpayers in the 2018 Budget. By ending duplicate contractual obligations, refinancing debt on more favorable terms to the county, and better managing costs by returning county functions to county control, the dissolution of several LDCs will save taxpayers over $2 million in the coming year. In total, Dinolfo’s decision to end Monroe County LDCs is anticipated to save local taxpayers over $25 million through 2034.
“I promised to bring a new set of eyes to improve every function of County government, and ending LDCs was at the top of the list,” said Dinolfo. “By bringing vital county functions back under county control, we’ve restored accountability and transparency in government while delivering $25 million in savings for local taxpayers.”
New Ideas for a New Monroe County
In the context of her 2018 Budget proposal, Dinolfo also previewed the launch of several new Monroe County programs, initiatives and efforts for the coming year, including:
The Excel Center:
Monroe County will be partnering with Goodwill of the Finger Lakes to assist in supporting a new 5-year demonstration project that will offer a tuition-free, post-secondary education and diploma, as well as an industry-recognized certificate, for local adults who have dropped out of school. The program is based on a nationwide Excel Center model and will involve an innovative, public-private partnership between multiple local stakeholders.
The Excel Center will offer rigorous academic programming, adult mentoring, complementary childcare, and custom skills-based job training. Research shows the Excel Center model is evidence-based and proven to reduce unemployment, increase earning potential, and help break the generational cycle of poverty for adults without a high school degree. The program is in the final stages of development by Goodwill of the Finger Lakes and will be announced in full soon.
Make Monroe Home:
Monroe County plans to launch a new initiative to help residents rehabilitate vacant “zombie” homes, return these properties to active ownership, and improve neighborhood home values, all while partnering with stakeholders to provide hands-on skilled job training to workers. Affordable financing terms will be available to residents seeking to purchase and renovate a zombie property for the community’s benefit. The program will be targeted to first time home buyers and is slated to be announced in full by early 2018.
Faster Toxicology Reporting:
The national heroin and opioid epidemic is taxing toxicology reporting systems across the country, a trend reflected by a surge in postmortem cases handled through the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office. The 2018 Budget will reflect funding to support the hiring of two additional Toxicologists in the Office of the Medical Examiner to offset growing caseloads and accelerate the completion of postmortem toxicology reports.
CPS Eight Point Plan:
As part of Dinolfo’s comprehensive new eight-point plan to enhance Child Protective Services (CPS) in Monroe County, the 2018 Budget reflects funding for 30 new CPS Caseworker positions. The net addition of 30 Caseworkers will bring total CPS staffing back above 2010 levels. The Budget also reflects an upgrade to the CPS Caseworker salary schedule.
Through late 2017 and into early 2018, Monroe County will continue the implementation of all elements of the CPS Eight Point Plan, including: making handheld smart tablets available to all CPS Caseworkers in the field; reestablishing a local Child Abuse and Maltreatment Hotline; conducting a comprehensive review of state laws, regulations and guidelines that govern CPS casework; launching a new CPS Mentoring Program; developing a public marketing campaign to boost the recruitment and retention of CPS workers; and assigning a new Recruitment Coordinator to help more CPS recruits move from application to employment.
A Continued Commitment to Children and Families
For the first time, Monroe County’s 2018 Budget will include a full accounting of all county programs, services, and initiatives that benefit local children and families. In the coming year, Monroe County will invest more than $500 million in these efforts, representing approximately 43% of its $1.2 billion Operating Budget.
“Our support of children and families is a strong foundation that we can use to build a better Monroe County,” said Dinolfo. “In 2018, Monroe County will invest over $500 million in services to benefit children and families, representing more than forty percent of our budget. I am especially proud that many of these programs help at-risk children overcome the challenges of poverty to secure an education, a career, and a brighter future.”
The County’s investments in local services for children and families include: Over $69 million in Sales Tax payments to local schools that help keep teachers on the job and students in the classroom; more than $45 million to support affordable child care that helps more parents transition from welfare to work; over $34 million to support Preschool Special Education; nearly $19 million to support Child Protective Services; more than $15 million to support Child Preventive Services; and over $10 million to support Early Intervention programming, among other services.