Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro and Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus hosted a press conference in Beacon last Wednesday, where they discussed the critical need for dedicated state and local funding from Congress to mitigate the financial consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Without these dedicated funds, state and local governments will be forced to cut budgets and eliminate vital community services and frontline jobs like public health care workers, police officers, firefighters, transportation, emergency medical services, teachers and more.
“We shut down the economy and the sales tax revenue and other sources of revenue have simply dried up,” Maloney said. “At the same time, their expenses have increased.”
Orange and Dutchess Counties have suffered from additional expenses and plummeting sales tax revenue.
Neuhaus noted that Orange County had to purchase body bags, ventilators and personal protective equipment as well as hundreds of computers for its employees to work remotely.
“We have never been reimbursed for any of those expenses,” he said. “And that is going to equal a big compounded problem as we now put our budget together.”
“Forty percent of Dutchess County’s budget is sales tax revenue...,” Molinaro said. “That revenue stream has been damaged irreparably in the short term. Dutchess County stares today at as much as a $60 million budget gap.”
In May, the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, which would provide an estimated $34 billion in new funds for New York State and an estimated $32 billion in new funds for New York’s counties and municipalities, including an estimated $216 million for Orange County; $165 million for Dutchess County; $55 million for Putnam County; and $544 million for Westchester County.
“In May when we passed the Heroes Act, that need was much less than it is today,” Maloney said. “Four months later, the number of cases has increased by many millions in the United States.”
The Senate has not considered the Heroes Act and negotiations for future COVID-19 relief legislation are ongoing.