At a time when protests against a broken system are spreading across the land, Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Genesee County Legislature, is taking a stand of her own.
At Wednesday's Ways and Means Committee meeting, Hancock voted no on a resolution that the legislature must surely pass or face consequences from the Albany bureaucracy.
Resolution 11 authorizes the country treasurer to transfer funds from various budget lines -- including sales tax money set aside to help deal with the county's aging and crumbling infrastructure -- to pay for a state mandated increase in payments to healthcare providers for pre-kindergarten and early intervention programs for children covered by Medicaid.
The increase in fees is retroactive over the past four years.
"We certainly don’t have the money to go back four years, in other budgets, and come up with the money," Hancock said.
Vexing Hancock more is the fact that for these same types of social service programs, the state is eight, nine and even 10 months behind in reimbursing the county for Medicaid services -- a debt that now exceeds $1.7 million.
"Because of this, we have a shortage of cash and an inability to pay," Hancock said. "Now, we must go into the 1-percent sales tax, which is supposed to be for things like roads and bridges, so of course, I feel righteous indignation. It isn’t anger. I feel that this is unjust in every possible way."
Ways and Means Chairman Hollis Upson said every member of the legislature feels the same way, but most will vote for the resolution at the next legislature meeting because if the resolution isn't passed, the state will just take the money from the county.
The total cost to the county of the increase exceeds $305,000.
Legislator Ray Cianfrini, who isn't on the Ways and Means Committee but was at the meeting, said he intends to vote against the resolution next Thursday.
"I’m as fed up as you are Mary Pat," Cianfrini said. "I'm voting no. I don’t care what the ramifications are."
Hancock said that if she thought the resolution wouldn't pass, she would vote yes, but since she expects the majority of legislators do what they must as mandated by the state, she wants to cast that symbolic no vote next Thursday.
"We’re not the only county being effected in this way, so I’m going to raise my hand and get as much attention on this as I can," Hancock said.