Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo unveiled the county’s annual budget Wednesday. The $1.2 billion budget keeps a flat tax for homeowners, creates an initiative to renovate and sell zombie homes, and includes a number of changes affecting families and children.
“Our support of children and families is a strong foundation that we can use to build a better Monroe County,” said Dinolfo. “In 2018, Monroe County will invest over $500 million in services to benefit children and families, representing more than 40 percent of our budget.”
43 percent to be exact. Dinolfo plans to expand childcare initiatives but she’s also targeting Child Protective Services. After the death of three-year-old Brook Stagles brought attention to CPS and the struggles the department faces, including overworked caseworkers, insufficient technological resources and low salaries, Dinolfo says she’s not only filling 25 previous vacancies but also adding 30 more positions and improving salaries.
Overall, the budget has 1.3 percent more spending.
“When I took office as County Executive, I said I would take a good, hard look at every part of county government and make it work for you,” said Dinolfo. “…From protecting taxpayers to promoting job growth this budget is a blueprint that we can use to build an even better Monroe County together in the coming year.”
Employment has long been a key part of Dinolfo’s campaign and work in office. She said she’ll invest another $2.5 million in the County’s Department of Planning and Development which administers many of the workforce programs and initiatives, including JobsOne and Recruiting on the Road. She said that department helped created 850 local jobs last year and retained another 4,500.
“As we work to build a better Monroe County, nothing is more important to me than making our community a great place to find jobs and opportunity.”
Some other key initiatives proposed in the budget include the creation of the Excel Center, a program to train and educate adults for the workforce; the hiring of two more county toxicologists to help handle the many cases of opioid overdoses, and the threat of reforming mandatory spending.
Dinolfo said 85 percent of the budget is spent before she even touches it. That money goes to federal and state programs, but Dinolfo said she thinks that percentage should be much lower. She doesn’t have a number currently, though she did laugh and nod when someone suggested zero.
Dinolfo unveiled her budget first at ABVI Goodwill on South Clinton Avenue and then fully at the County Legislature.