Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan Signs 2021 Budget

2021 Budget includes a 0% tax increase and zero layoffs despite the financial impact from the pandemic 

2021 Budget Expands Mobile Mental Health placing a full-time social worker into County 911 Emergency Management Department

County Executive Ryan calls for new “People-Centered Economy” envisioning a better and stronger Ulster County focusing on key economic sectors

KINGSTON, N.Y. – County Executive Pat Ryan signed the 2021 Budget today that again held the line on taxes while enhancing critical services during one of the most challenging financial times that Ulster County has seen. At approximately $334.4 million, the 2021 budget includes a 0% increase in the tax levy and no layoffs to county employees. The budget highlights a series of initiatives focused on ensuring Ulster County emerges from the challenges of the COVID pandemic stronger and more equitable, including a comprehensive set of economic investments, major infrastructure improvements, and critical social services. 

“The 2021 Budget was adopted unanimously with bi-partisan support and represents an overwhelming vote of confidence after one of the most difficult years for Ulster County in decades,” Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said. “I want to thank my partners in the Ulster County Legislature. Together, we worked to deliver a county budget that once again held the line on taxes, while also containing no layoffs and maintaining – and in many cases improving – delivery of vital services across the board. At this time, we must do everything within our power to ensure that we are delivering the best services at the best value to taxpayers and that we can emerge from the pandemic with a continued focus on taking care of each other during this moment of great need. Our 2021 Budget accomplishes just that.”

“Ulster County had one of the most financially challenging years that we have ever seen,” Ulster County Legislative Chairman Dave Donaldson said. “Yet, through hard work and collaboration, we unanimously adopted a budget that does not raise taxes and keeps essential services that our residents rely on fully intact. The work done in 2020, sets us up for success as we continue to address the challenges that Covid-19 has brought Ulster County.”

“I’m really pleased with the collaborative process between the Legislature and Executive that led us to this budget signing,” Minority Leader Ken Ronk said. “This budget protects Ulster County taxpayers, continues to invest in our dedicated County workforce, and works to keep our residents safe and healthy through the COVID-19 Pandemic. It’s a document that all of Ulster County can be proud of.”

“When uncertainty can feel overwhelming, the certainty of stable taxes and the promise of key services continuing may hopefully bring some comfort to our constituents as we head into 2021,” Ulster County Legislator Abe Uchitelle said. 

“We are always better in unison than we are apart and that has never been more evident than during these unprecedented times,” Ulster County Legislator Heidi Haynes said. “My colleagues in the legislature along with County Executive Pat Ryan have worked hard to unanimously adopt a sound budget for all the residents of Ulster County. The 2021 budget continues to hold the line on taxes, cuts spending and maintains critical services. We’ve faced some of the most challenging fiscal decisions in recent county history and I am confident that together we will emerge stronger than ever to continue to best serve the residents of this amazing county.”

“The unanimous adoption of the Ulster County budget during these trying times is a prime example of what can happen when we all work together,” Ulster County Legislator Laura Petit said. “I am so proud that we were able to keep taxes flat while maintaining services that our residents need now more than ever.” 

“During these difficult times it is more important now than ever that government cooperate and work together at all levels and branches,” Ulster County Legislator John Parete said. “The 2021 budget is an example of what is possible if we take this approach to government.”

Despite the financial challenges brought on by the pandemic, the county was able to hold the line on taxes due to strong fiscal management in response to the crisis. Once again, Ulster County received a strong credit rating of AA in the most recent ratings by S&P Global, issued in November. Ulster County has also again been designated as “fiscally sound” by the NYS Comptroller, and Ryan’s Budget maintains a fund balance above recommended levels to ensure the county maintains financial flexibility going forward.

2021 Budget Initiatives

Building A People-Centered Economy 

Ulster 2040

This week, County Executive Pat Ryan released Ulster 2040, an action plan for creating a sustainable and “People-Centered Economy.” The report outlines a bold, long-term vision for what our economy (and by extension our community) should and could look like in twenty years and it outlines specific recommendations and short, medium and long-term investments in four focused sectors to achieve that vision. 

Grow and Diversify our Economy for All

The 2021 Ulster County Budget proposes to spend approximately $5.3 million in the operating budget and capital program to support economic development in the county.

The Ulster County Office of Economic Development’s budget includes $768,768.00 in proposed funding in the 2021 Ulster County Budget. Additionally, the Ulster County Tourism Department includes $1,007,099.00 in proposed funding.

Ulster County Enterprise West (Formerly Tech City) 

Approximately $225,000 is included in the operating budget to ensure the upkeep of Ulster County Enterprise West, formerly known as Tech City. Additionally, to rebirth the former IBM site, taking long-vacant buildings and putting them back to work as a hub for artists, designers, manufacturers, and creatives. The capital budget includes $2.9 million over several years to fund this transformation. 

Green Careers Academy

As a part of the 2021 Budget, up to will be used $75,000 to expand the Green Careers Academy for green career training and new internship programs. The Office of Employment and Training (OET) will be partnering with Ulster BOCES and SUNY Ulster to create green training opportunities for Ulster BOCES students. Through OET’s Green Careers internship program, graduating students will also be eligible for further Green Careers Academy courses and paid on-the-job training experience.

100% Renewable Energy by 2030

Through investments made in the 2021 Budget, Ulster County will be halfway towards its goal of 100% renewable energy by 2030. As part of a five-year $2.5 million dollar capital plan, Ulster County will invest over $800,000 in 2021 to update decades old HVAC systems at the Ulster County Courthouse, the Ulster County Government Building, Ulster County Hall of Records and the Trudy Resnick Building in Ellenville. Over the next five-years, the county will look to upgrade systems in 14 buildings. The project will reduce heating and cooling energy use by up to 20%, resulting in significant operational cost savings, and replace older refrigerants, which are powerful greenhouse gases, in HVAC equipment.

In addition, Ulster County recently executed an agreement with the NY Power Authority for UCAT electric bus charging infrastructure. This project which utilizes VW settlement funding, upgrades the electrical service of the UCAT facility at 1 Danny Circle, Kingston will commence along with the installation of three 150KW DC fast chargers in the bus garage. It is anticipated that work will be completed by the end of 2021.

Through an agreement on the future site of Ulster County’s second solar array located in the town of Saugerties, Ulster County will develop a community distributed generation project which will provide power for both Ulster County Government operations and local community solar subscribers. Ulster County will also subscribe to receive community solar credits from multiple sites within Central Hudson’s service territory, including the ELP Myer solar project located on Warren Myer road in Saugerties. Both projects will lead to an anticipated annual cost savings of $60,000.

Investments in Community Care 

Mobile Mental Health Expansion 

For the first time, Ulster County will invest $150,000 to place a full-time social worker into the Emergency Management Department. Residents who call 911 and are experiencing a mental health crisis, will be able to be met with the response of a social worker opposed to law enforcement. This will ensure a trauma informed care response instead of incarceration. 

In the 2021 Budget, $13.7 million will be allocated for Mental Health a total of $871,664 will go to Mobile Mental Health.

Brighter Futures 

Launched last year, Brighter Futures focuses and personalizes support for adolescents, and their families, to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty. In the 2021 Budget, the program will be doubled from 20 participants to 40. Brighter Futures will undoubtedly change the life trajectory for many young people in our community.

Golden Hill Housing 

In the 2021 Budget, Ulster County will continue to press forward in bringing workforce housing to Ulster County. In partnership with the Ulster County Legislature and the newly formed joint Housing Advisory Committee, plans will be finalized to convert the old jail at Golden Hill into a major workforce housing project. County Executive Ryan stressed that this type of housing will be accessible to frontline workers who’ve risked their lives during the pandemic and deserve a place for them and their family to live in dignity. In addition, work will continue to identify more sites across the county for future workforce housing projects. 

Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

As part of the 2021 Budget, $670,000 will be dedicated to opioid use prevention. Through the budget, residents will have the opportunity to obtain housing vouchers at local hotels for those in need of safe housing while seeking treatment. Additionally, vouchers for childcare to assist those in obtaining treatment and attending critical appointments will be made available. Further, funds will be made available to offset transportation costs for residents getting help and providing access to technology for telemedicine needs. 

Funding will also be used to expand Ulster County’s High Risk Mitigation Team to the City of Kingston and strengthen its reach into other parts of Ulster County. Through this new effort, Ellenville Regional Hospital will fund two Care Managers to serve communities outside the City of Kingston and the Ulster County Health Department will fund one Care Manager to focus on Kingston along with assisting the program in reviewing all county overdoses and connecting the many treatment facilities. 

The High Risk Mitigation Team will take a population health approach and work closely with those struggling with addiction to ensure they receive comprehensive, personalized support and services. The team will carefully follow their treatment so they don’t slip through the cracks in existing systems. Services will include: linking to peer services, treatment, harm reduction measures, medication assisted treatment, OUD prevention education, and recovery services.

Infrastructure Investments

In the 2021 Capital Budget, $48.5 million will be dedicated to enhancing roads and bridges. This includes, among many other key projects, $4.4 million to rebuild the Shawangunk Kill Bridge in Shawangunk, nearly $3 million to upgrade the Maltby Hollow Bridge in the town of Olive, over $2 million on the Sundown Bridge in the town of Denning, and $10 million on overall road paving across the county throughout 2021. 

Education and Community Care 

In the 2021 Budget, $16.2 million dollars will be invested in education, including $12.3 million in continued support to SUNY Ulster’s academic programs and facility upgrades. Further, $36.7 million has been allocated for Medicaid, $36.6 million on childcare and early intervention programs and $13.7 million for Mental Health.

Over $100,000 will be allocated to Family of Woodstock for Domestic and Family violence prevention.