Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, a Republican running for governor, wants to cut state spending and reduce taxes for New York state residents.
That’s something he’s already done in his county, State Republican Chairman Edward F. Cox said.
"He has really done very well in each of the offices he’s held, particularly as the county executive of Dutchess County, where he has cut taxes, his budget now is lower than it was six years ago," Cox said in a radio interview.
Molinaro has been the top elected official in Dutchess County since 2012. He has been a vocal critic of Medicaid and unfunded mandates from the state that drive up local property taxes. He wants the state to shoulder more of the cost for those services. At the same time, he wants to cut state spending to keep state taxes low.
Is Cox right that Molinaro has already cut spending and property taxes in Dutchess County?
A spokesperson for Cox pointed to the county’s approved budgets while Molinaro’s been in office.
This year’s budget in Dutchess County reduced both the county property tax rate for residents and the tax levy for the fourth consecutive year, according to budget documents.
But his first two budgets increased property taxes by about 2 percent in 2013 and again in 2014.
The lower tax rates and levies don’t mean property taxes have gone down for every resident in Dutchess County. Property tax bills are a combination of taxes levied by the county and each municipality. While the county’s tax levy has gone down, some local taxes may have increased. Property taxes levied by Poughkeepsie, for example, rose by 16.5 percent in 2017.
Dutchess County spending, on the other hand, has gone up every year Molinaro has been in office.
Total spending increased by about 6 percent between his first budget and 2017, according to the county's budget office. Total spending for 2018 won't be known until next year.
Part of that is mandated spending by the state. Budget documents show the cost of mandated services has increased by close to $3 million since 2015.
Cox’s spokesperson said he was thinking about the county’s workforce when he said total spending was down in Dutchess County. Molinaro has approved cuts in the county workforce since taking office. Budget documents show the county planned to employ 1,753 full-time employees in 2018, down from 1,823 when Molinaro took office.
Cox said Molinaro has cut taxes and spending as Dutchess County Executive.
He’s right that county property taxes are lower. But spending has risen more than 6 percent since Molinaro's first budget.
Cox’s claim is partially accurate. On balance, we rate it Half True.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article used numbers from county budget documents to show changes in spending. Those numbers did not reflect the county's actual expenses, the county's budget office said.