Friday, December 7, 2018



Dutchess budget approved, after lengthy debate on jail issues

POUGHKEEPSIE – Dutchess County legislators debated for about three hours before adopting a 2019 budget of about $502 million, with a roughly 2.5 percent reduction in the tax levy.  It’s the fifth tax cut in as many years.

Any amendments approved involved moving money in the fund balance and will not affect the budget’s bottom line.

Most of the debate was over jail issues, including staffing and whether money should be included to fund more positions. 

Jail Administrator Mike Walters said putting money in the budget for 10 new positions could be a futile effort. He said it could take almost the full year to train a full-time candidate.

“So these positions that you’re looking to give us, we might not get ‘til November, and if we’re lucky,” Walter said.  “What we really need now is to fill up the positions with part-timers.  The reason we do part-timers right now is because they’re easier to train.  We get them in, 120 hours of training, we get right on.  Within the year, we’ll give them their basic training if they’re willing to stay and we can keep them for as long as they want and we can schedule them for the days we’re going to need.”

The amendment earmarking funding for the jail positions failed as did several other amendments, mostly along party lines, with the majority Republicans opposed.

Amendments approved included more funding for non-profit agencies that work with the county. 

After the amendments were dealt with, a few Democrats, including Rebecca Edwards, said they could not support the budget.

“This budget does not include a solution to what seems to be a crisis situation in the jail in which people’s lives are at stake and that includes not only inmates but people who work for the county who are our dedicated corrections officers,” Edwards said.

Democrat Minority Leader Hannah Black said she would support the budget.   So did Republican Will Truitt.

 “I will be a proud ‘yes’ vote tonight on this budget and I think it addresses a lot of critical areas of need in our county; supports our taxpayers,” Truitt said.

The vote to adopt the budget was 19 ‘yes,’ five ‘no’. 

It goes back to County Executive Marcus Molinaro for any possible vetoes.


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