Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John M. Becker was joined by fellow supervisors, business owners, community organizations and local residents May 18 to call on New York state to enact immediate relief from unfunded mandates.
(Wampsville, NY – May 2012) Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John M. Becker was joined by fellow supervisors, business owners, community organizations and local residents May 18 to call on New York state to enact immediate relief from unfunded mandates.
He said as “mayday” is recognized as an international call for help, Madison County leaders and taxpayers are calling for relief from State-mandated programs that continue to take enormous portions of local property taxes and County revenue to fund state programs.
“County revenue and local property taxes are being swallowed in the undertow of New York state’s powerful current of unfunded mandates,” Becker said. “They take away from needed investments in our roads, sewers and other infrastructure that would improve our economy and create jobs. They force residents to pay higher property taxes. They make seniors on fixed incomes struggle. They make home ownership for young families sometimes unattainable. This is a deterrent to prosperity.”
According to Becker, nine unfunded mandates consume 90 percent of the county property tax levies across the state. In Madison County alone, Medicaid expenses consume 40 percent of the county’s $29-million tax levy – more than $11 million dollars.
“Other state programs that drive local Madison County revenue to Albany include Public Assistance safety net services, child welfare, preschool special education, early intervention, indigent defense, probation, youth detention and pensions,” Becker said. “After the total amount of revenue that Madison County takes in and spends on county government, unfunded mandates consume more than 100 percent of the local property tax levy. State mandates include many necessary services, but more of the funding for these services has to be the responsibility of New York state.”
Becker said there are three common-sense examples of proposed mandate relief reforms that would help provide relief for Madison County and property tax payers.
“New York state should pay a much larger share of Medicaid costs,” Becker said. “This is the largest burden on the local tax base. New York state must reform early intervention so that non-governmental safety nets like private insurance cover medically necessary early intervention services, instead of leaving the entire cost to taxpayers. New York state should implement reforms to offset probation costs, such as charging those who have committed crimes with a reasonable probation set-up fee that would help increase revenue for the program.”
Becker praised the efforts of Gov. Andrew Cuomo to push for greater mandate relief policies/
“Not everyone in state government can be blamed for this,” Becker said. “There have been years of elected officials funding their priorities with our county’s wallet. Thankfully, we have the leadership of a governor who not only understands our concerns, but has made mandate relief one of his top priorities. We need our state senators and assemblymen to approach mandate relief with the same level of commitment and vigor as Gov. Cuomo.”
Becker said the rising cost of mandates will hurt local non-profit agencies.
“With more and more money going to Albany,” Becker said, “there is less money available to support non-profit agencies.”
Theresa Davis, executive director of the Madison County Office for the Aging said the OFA relies on help from Madison County to provide home care, nutrition, health insurance counseling and other programs and services provided to seniors locally to help them remain at home as productive citizens in their own communities.
“We are very concerned that with the costs of state mandates rising,” Davis said. “Without mandate relief, Madison County will have to cut our funding. Sending more funds to Albany hurts our organization and our seniors.”
Mandates drive up property taxes and hurt residents and businesses.
“As a small business owner, a taxpayer, and a job creator who works to promote businesses and community, I fully understand how the state’s unfunded mandates are an obstacle to job creation, reasonable local taxes and the health of the general economy,” said Karst Tree Service owner Terry Karst of Oneida. “Mandate reform will help maintain existing business and spur business growth and expansion to generate revenue and promote a healthy economy.”
“The Governor’s Mandate Relief Council is reviewing mandates identified by local governments to reduce the burden local communities,” Becker said. “Madison County needs mandate relief now.”
According to Becker, Madison County contributes more than $1.4 million to local organizations, including Affiliated Conservation Clubs, Canastota Public Library, Cazenovia Public Library, CNY Regional Planning & Development Board, Community Action Program for Madison County, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County, DeRuyter Free Library, Earlville Free Library, Food Bank of Central New York, Hamilton Public Library, Heritage Farm, Madison Cortland Chapter NYSARC, Madison County Children’s Camp, Madison County Cooperative Extension Agriculture Economic Development Program, BRiDGES – Madison County Council on Alcohol & Substance Abuse, Madison County Fair, Madison County Historical Society, Madison County Industrial Development Agency, Madison County Office for the Aging, Madison County Soil & Water Conservation District, Mid-York Library System, Morrisville Public Library, New Woodstock Free Library, Oneida Public Library, Sullivan Free Library and Wanderer’s Rest Humane Association.