Having just completed my first year representing Beacon and Fishkill in the Dutchess County Legislature, I wanted to share some of the great work that happened in 2016.
For far too long, the county had been forced to house inmates in other counties’ facilities at an excessive cost, which forced officers to travel and also cut off inmates awaiting trial from their lawyers, the courts and their families. We were able to agree on a new facility that will keep inmates in Dutchess County and save more than $5.3 million annually while expanding alternatives to incarceration that will drive down recidivism.
This past fall, I was proud to sponsor a resolution that re-established the Dutchess County Human Rights Commission, which had been defunct for more than five years. The commission provides an integral function in fostering respect and understanding of people of all racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds. The commission has 15 members, including appointees from Fishkill and Beacon.
The capstone of the year was the adoption of the 2017 budget, which reduced both the property tax levy and tax rate, held spending relatively flat, and increased our investment by $1.7 million in key growth industries such as tourism, economic development, agriculture and arts. It also set aside $15.25 million for infrastructure improvements in addition to $100,000 in Community Block Development Grant funding awarded to the City of Beacon for street rehabilitation.
Even with a strong budget, the legislature took its job in reviewing the proposal seriously and offered a few amendments, including increased funding to expand home-delivered meals to seniors, funding to assist and expand operations at a local shelter and an amendment I introduced to allocate an additional $5,000 to the Human Rights Commission.
While we may not always agree on the issues, it is important that we listen to one another, understand each other and collaborate.
Jerry Landisi, Beacon