On Oct. 1, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan delivered his 2022 Executive Budget proposal at the Field of Dreams pavilion in New Paltz.
The $351.1 million budget includes a 0% increase in the tax levy while also proposing zero layoffs, returning county staffing to 2019 levels.
Several initiatives were also mentioned including a focus on re-investing in mental health and addiction recovery.
$3.3 million will be allocated for federal relief funds to design and construct the county’s first ever Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Center. The first step that will be made in this American Rescue Plan: Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Series will be the development of a Crisis Stabilization Center in 2022.
Ryan also mentioned a goal to dedicate resources to build a more equitable economy as well as the urgent need for housing in the county.
$1.5 million will be directed towards the county-led Housing Development Corporation to demolish the old Ulster County Jail and fund the construction of over 160 units of senior and workforce housing. An additional $2 million will be used to accelerate the construction of more housing for seniors, frontline workers, veterans and more. These plans will be assisted by Ulster County’s first ever full-time planner who will focus on housing issues and implementing the Ulster County Housing Action Plan.
“Ulster County is on the strongest financial footing we have been in at least a decade,” said Ryan. “My 2022 Executive budget will once again hold the line on property taxes with a zero percent tax increase. In addition, we will make major commitments to bolstering mental health services, addressing the housing crisis and directly financially supporting our small businesses. For far too long, we have understaffed, underfunded and undervalued mental health services in New York State and across our country, including right here in Ulster County. This budget puts an end to that and puts funding direc tly into growing our economy and caring for those most in need in our community.”
Part of the budget includes a plan to invest over $32 million in trails and infrastructure. This will make major investments in maintaining as well as enhancing infrastructure.
$18.2 million will be used to maintain and improve county roads and bridges. $3.9 million will help accelerate the municipal water and sewer projects.
Additionally, this money will also help fund major bridge projects including the McKinstry Bridge in Gardiner, the Lyonsville Bridge in Marbletown and the Broadstreet Hollow Bridge in Shandaken.
The Budget also proposes $1.9 million dollars to build and improve the trails infrastructure across the county. The money will focus on improving two major recreational trails, mainly to complete work that has been ongoing for the past decade. The trails include: the 27-mile-long O&W Rail Trail from Kingtson south to the Village of Ellenville and the 22-mile-long Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, which runs from Kingston to the southern border of the Town of Gardiner.
Other budget initiatives include:
$2,000,000 will go towards launching the Ulster County Center for Economic Innovation at the former IBM site in the Town of Ulster. This will bring together important economic development agencies and partners from education and workforce development sectors, the county team and anchor tenants from key economic cluster areas.
An additional $2,000,000 will be dedicated to small businesses in the county, focusing on minority, women and veteran-owned businesses.
A state-of-the-art emergency management and government operations facility will be created that will concentrate on critical functions across county government. This will include an expanded 911 Center.
Ulster County Mobile Mental Health, a program launched in 2015, will be adding a third Mobile Mental Health Team to respond to 911 calls in 2022 allowing the program to expand to include New Paltz.