Also, legislature passes tax exemption on clothing, shoes
Dutchess County employees who worked at least 80 hours between the start of the pandemic shutdown in March 2020 and the end of last year will receive a one-time $1,000 bonus underwritten with federal funding.
The payment, approved unanimously by the Legislature on Monday (Nov. 8), will be sent to anyone who received a paycheck from the county, whether for hourly, per-diem, part-time or full-time work, between March 27 and Dec. 31, 2020. Former employees who left last year on good terms and did not participate in an early retirement program offered in 2020 are also eligible.
The program will cost $1.8 million, with all but about $100,000 coming from $57 million the county will receive over two years from the federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) enacted in March. The $1.9 trillion act provided funding to compensate state and local governments for pandemic-related costs and revenue shortfalls.
County Executive Marc Molinaro, speaking last week during a meeting of the Legislature’s Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee, said that one-time cash bonuses were one of the spending categories counties had sought in the American Rescue Plan because many of them deferred compensation and benefits as they faced declines in revenue from taxes and other sources.
Dutchess is using an additional $1.8 million in ARP funding to refill 22 positions that were eliminated or left vacant to cut costs in the 2021 budget; another $2.5 million to distribute grants to nonprofits; and $10 million for a youth center in the City of Poughkeepsie.
Molinaro also announced in June that the county would invest $12.5 million of its ARP allocation in renovations at Dutchess Stadium in Wappingers Falls, which is home of the New York Yankees’ High-A minor league team, the Hudson Valley Renegades.
The Legislature also on Monday:
- Passed a resolution exempting clothing and footwear costing less than $110 from county sales taxes. The exemption takes effect on March 1 and will cost the county an estimated $12 million in revenue in 2022 and $14.3 million annually in subsequent years. Dutchess will also have to pay the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for half of its loss of the sales tax revenue — an estimated $595,000 in 2022 and $715,000 annually going forward.
- Approved an agreement in which the county’s medical examiner will perform autopsies for Rensselaer County. Michael Sikirica, the Rensselaer medical examiner, was prohibited from performing autopsies at local hospitals because he refused a COVID-19 vaccination.
- Authorized the use of $1.5 million in general-fund reserves to cover overtime for the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, including $1 million in overtime for the county jail.
- Set a public hearing on the proposed 2022 budget and five-year Capital Improvement Plan for Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. in the Legislature’s chambers at 22 Market St. in Poughkeepsie.
I was really worried about the cash-strapped Yankees. Thank goodness for our civic-minded legislators to help out a billion-dollar corporation. If we’re lucky, they’ll have some left to give to Amazon.