County Feels Strain Of Unfunded Mandates

By: Shawn Magrath

County feels strain of unfunded mandates

NORWICH – The Chenango County Board of Supervisors is rallying against a series of New York mandates that local officials argue are putting a heavy burden on property taxpayers.

Board members unanimously passed a resolution at a June meeting opposing the increasing number of unfunded mandates approved by the state legislature.

The resolution cites claims from the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) which say there are just nine state mandates equalling 90 percent, or $12 billion, of all county property taxes levied in the state. Among those mandates: Medicaid, safety net programs for needy families, child welfare programs, special education and pre-school, early intervention, probation, indigent defense, youth detention, and pensions for public employees.

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While Chenango officials don't oppose the intent of every mandate, the lack of state help to execute those mandates is putting strain on local governments, said County Board Chairman Lawrence Wilcox.

“New York State has saddled us with a two percent tax cap and many of our revenues are tied to meeting that tax cap,” Wilcox said. “That's why we feel that every time one more thing is added that is an unfunded mandate, it erodes our ability. We would like the (state) elected officials to consider that before passing more and more things down to us.”

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