Fleming Responds to County Budget Presentation

On Thursday October 4th at 3pm, Maureen Fleming held a press conference in front of the Putnam County Courthouse, 40 Gleneida Ave, Carmel, NY. The following was Flemings response to the Putnam County Budget presentation on October 3, 2018.

Fleming: Budget Shows An Off-Course, Wasteful County Government

At Wednesday’s budget presentation MaryEllen Odell announced a 2% tax increase, the SEVENTH county tax increase in a row. This week, I delivered for public scrutiny the 2019 Town of Kent budget with a 0% tax increase – the FIFTH flat tax budget in a row.

Odell says that zeros don’t work. In the Town of Kent they do. Taxpayers in Kent are happy about 0% increases over five years—flat taxes have allowed our town to recover from years of mismanagement and overspending. I will bring that fiscal discipline to the County level. As far as I’m concerned, zero isn’t only good, it’s the goal.

Not only is Odell raising taxes by 2%, she is also using nearly $4 million dollars of general fund just to balance her budget. That’s money that could be used for capital projects across Putnam, and it translates to 2.5% of the overall budget. So Odell is raising our taxes and wants us to thank her for staying under the New York state tax cap, while at the same time taking another $4M out of our pockets.

Odell claimed that 69% of the County’s budget is out of her control. She blamed unfunded mandates—New York State requirements that the state doesn’t always pay for.[1] Without a doubt, unfunded mandates impact departmental budgets—but spending choices to meet mandates are fully within the executive’s control. Smart planning and budgeting means that a municipality, just like taxpaying families, lives within its means and meets its commitments.

Odell presented the budget at the Putnam County Golf Course—the emblem of her administration’s waste. She says the course is on solid financial ground. With debt and expenses, we’ve lost money on the Putnam County golf course. Odell predicted it would produce income of $172,621.03 this year. As of October—10 months in—expenses for the golf course have exceeded the income generated by $223,055.55. People can see for themselves in page 187 of the budget documents.[2]

We are in the hole for what Odell calls a “premier destination.” The County Executive’s job isn’t to operate destinations—it’s to deliver essential services to taxpayers. Money-losing adventures aren’t smart money management—they’re a burden to taxpayers.

It’s time to take back County Government and shut down Club Putnam for good. As County Executive, I will do just that.


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