KINGSTON, N.Y. (NEWS10) — On Monday, December 19, the Ulster County Legislature voted to replenish the Tax Stabilization Fund, appropriating $5,950,451 drawn from the current budget surplus as well as federal dollars allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act. These monies will function as a heavily restricted reserve to offset any future financial crisis.

“The last two years have presented our county with an unpredictable windfall in sales tax revenue that has allowed us to operate at a surplus, keeping property tax levies stable,” said Chairwoman Tracey Bartels (District 16 – Gardiner & Shawangunk), the author of the resolution. “It is our fiduciary responsibility to our constituents to protect a portion of this revenue and reserve it for emergencies that may present themselves in the future.”

The reserve fund, created in 2014, was first used in 2020 to offset unforeseen expenditures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the 2014 resolution creating the program, the balance can only be used to finance unanticipated revenue loss, expenditure, or projected increases to the property tax levy above 2.5%.

“Replenishing the Tax Stabilization Fund will give the county government stability in a future financial crisis to be able to provide necessary services without levying an overwhelming property tax increase,” said Legislator John Gavaris, Chair of the Ways and Means Committee (District 15 – Ellenville & Wawarsing). “Withdrawing from this source will require the cooperation of both the Legislature and the Executive’s office, ensuring that this balance is only utilized in an emergency.”

“Though Ulster County has operated in a fiscally healthy manner for a number of years, the next disaster, pandemic or financial crisis could be just around the corner,” added Chair Bartels. “Rather than burden our communities in the middle of catastrophe, investment in tax stabilization now will better serve taxpayers in the future,” she concluded.