Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus released his proposed $923,069,885 County budget for 2024 on Tuesday, September 26th at the Orange County Association of Towns, Villages and Cities meeting at the Erie Hotel and Restaurant in Port Jervis.
The proposed County Tax Rate is $2.34, which is lower than it was both last year and in 2014, when Neuhaus took office. It remains the lowest tax rate in Orange County since the 1960s. The County anticipates collecting $124.5 million in property taxes while the cost of nine State mandates alone exceeds $168.3 million.
“Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars in unfunded mandates created by State Legislators, the County budget once again lowers County property taxes and meets these mandates,” Neuhaus said. “I will continue to make it a priority to stabilize and strengthen finances without sacrificing essential services to our residents. Independent auditors have validated the financial decisions we have made, and I look forward to working with the County Legislature to build on our successes.”
“I commend the County Executive for once again putting together an efficient budget,” Chairwoman of the Legislature Katie Bonelli said. “It has been a pleasure working cooperatively with him and the Legislature, developing a budget that works for all residents. We look forward to the Legislative review process and the adoption of the 2024 Budget.”
The County’s finances have been stabilized during Neuhaus’ 10 years in office. Economic growth championed by Neuhaus has fueled the County’s ability to meet State mandates which have continuously increased costs in areas of social services, inmate care, and criminal defense costs. The state-managed healthcare plan, NYSHIP, is projected to rise 10 percent alone next year.
Additional highlights of the 2024 proposed budget include:
- The County tax rate will drop for the eighth consecutive year and remain within the New York State Tax Cap mandate.
- Moody’s Investors Service, the financial services ratings company, noted that “the County benefits from ongoing economic expansion and tourism and its credit strengths include an expanding tax base and a sound financial position.”
- The County will budget $6.6 Million in 2024 for hotel occupancy tax. The County Executive has aggressively pursued initiatives focused on tourism and economic development.
- The County’s property Tax Rate has gone down 40 percent since 2014 and property values have increased 80.7 percent during that same time.
- The County generated $381 million in sales tax in 2022 and is projected to generate $393.7 Million this year.
New initiatives announced by Neuhaus included:
- Continuing free CPR classes for Orange County residents and organizations.
- Improvements to the County Arboretum at Thomas Bull Park, including the construction of a new pavilion for weddings, concerts, and events. The reconstruction of the Jim and Ruth Ottaway Building at the Arboretum.
- Active shooter training for residents, Fire and EMS.
Several preservation projects, including:
- The acquisition of Sugar Loaf Mountain, which will be utilized as a County park open to the public.
- The development of the Schunnemunk Rail Trail, the Warwick Bike and Pedestrian Trail, and the creation of a rail trail from Port Jervis to Kingston.
- The preservation of Boehmler Pond in Port Jervis/Deerpark will safeguard the city’s water supply and expand its watershed park.
“Orange County is an innovator in open space preservation and has partnered with the non-profit sector to preserve open space, address climate change by being proactive on flood control efforts in the agricultural community, and expand recreational access by more than doubling the County’s rails to trails system,” said Jim Delaune, Director of the Orange County Land Trust.