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mandate relief

May 14, 2012 - 9:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, budget, mandate relief.

Genesee County officials took dead aim at Medicaid on Monday afternoon -- not at the idea that the neediest among us receive free medical care, but that the state and federally mandated program is forced on local governments with no cost controls.

About 40 percent of the tax bill of each property owner in Genesee County -- a total of $9.8 million -- goes to help fund Medicaid.

Each week, the county wires $185,572 to the state to pay for Medicaid.

"As a county, we have waited to present our case -- that change needs to happen and fast before the ship sinks," said Legislator Annie Lawrence (pictured). "I ask you now Albany electeds, don't come home without real mandate relief for all counties in the state."

Lawrence was among several county officials who spoke at a "May Day" rally for mandate relief for local governments.

County officials also took aim at health care premiums that can't be reduced by law, and the spiraling cost of employee pensions.

All told, the nearly $2.2 million in anticipated new costs from these mandated expenses exceed the ceiling of the property tax cap by more than $1 million.

Officials are calling on Albany to enact meaningful mandate relief so that local taxes can go to local programs, such as law enforcement and highways.

The rally is being duplicated this week in counties across the state.

January 9, 2012 - 11:00am
posted by Howard B. Owens in genesee county, mandate relief.

Press release:

In an ongoing effort to define the State mandates that should be on the short list for mandate relief efforts at the State level, today the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) released a new report: “State Programs Funded by County Property Taxpayers” (attached).

“County elected officials remain committed to providing essential local services in their communities. However, to do this and stabilize our property taxes, we need mandate relief from the state. This report details for the first time the vast majority of mandates required by the State. This is a call to action and we need assistance from our Governor,” said NYSAC President Mary Pat Hancock, chairwoman of the Genesee County Legislature.

County governments are regional governments and, because of this unique relationship with the public, have been called upon by the state to provide state services locally. However, over time, reimbursement for these state programs and services was eliminated or drastically reduced leaving local taxpayers to make up the difference. In fact, in 2012 more than $11 billion in local taxes will be sent to the State treasury to subsidize State spending decisions in these areas.

"Last year, State lawmakers promised to enact meaningful mandate relief when they enacted a property tax cap. This report is designed to define what those mandates are, and to ensure that there is no doubt of the areas of concern. These are the mandates that the state should focus on to provide meaningful mandate relief,” said Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards, president of the New York State County Executives Association.

Last year, county leaders identified just nine State mandates that consume 90 percent of the entire county property tax levy collected statewide. This most recent report takes those nine mandates as a stepping off point, and identifies other major cost drivers that must be funded by local taxes each year.

In terms of Medicaid alone, counties and the City of New York will send $7.3 billion to the State in weekly installments to fund the State’s public health insurance program.

Counties are advocating for five specific mandate relief proposals, including

1. A gradual State takeover of county Medicaid costs;

2. Pension reforms;

3. Reforms to the Pre-School Special Education Program transportation costs;

4. Requiring health insurance companies to fund medically necessary Early Intervention services;

5. Timely reimbursement from the state for state services delivered locally.

“We believe 2012 is the year for State leaders to enact meaningful mandate relief that will provide counties the ability to stabilize property taxes, continue critical local services and promote the economic vitality of our communities. We cannot afford for this effort to fail and on behalf of the public, our county leaders stand ready to work with our partners in State government to make that happen,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario

Download report by clicking here (PDF)

October 5, 2011 - 11:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in county legislature, mandate relief.

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.

October 5, 2011 - 11:54am
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, mandate relief.

Press release:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,I,C – Batavia) wrote to Governor Andrew Cuomo, urging action on mandate relief. The assemblyman said that the state Senate and Assembly must be convened as soon as possible to address this issue that is crushing local governments and school districts.

“As representatives of New York state, we are all shirking our duties by our inaction regarding the financial position we have put local governments in by not instituting true mandate relief,” said Hawley in his letter to the governor. “I am asking you to reconvene both houses of the Legislature immediately to begin the arduous task of reducing the burden on local governments and taxpayers.”

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