Friday, September 18, 2009


Do you remember Saturday Night Lives’ Linda Richman who would say “talk amongst yourselves”? That is what was going on for the past few days at the New York State Association of Counties Fall Seminar. County officials expressed outrage over being “nickled, dimed and dollared" as a result of cost shifting efforts by our State leaders. To put it simply, our leaders in Albany are trying to solve their budget gap at our expense. It seems that all of the State’s bad decisions are being forced on local government.
The call to action was to stop talking amongst ourselves and make the public aware of Albany’s inadequacies.
The Dutchess County Executive echoes many of the sentiments held by the Ulster and Orange County Executives. It’s time for our leaders in Albany to make the tough decisions and take their hands out of the pockets of local government and the local tax payer. It’s time to STOP SPENDING….STOP REDUNDANCIES…STOP COST SHIFTING.

Copyright © 2009 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc.

Cost shifting concerns county officials
POUGHKEEPSIE – More than 500 county officials from across New York State including county executives, chairs of county legislative boards and county administrators gathered for the 2009 New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) Fall Seminar in Saratoga, New York. The dominant issue facing county leaders is how to deal with potential cost shifts from New York State as the state faces its perennial budget gaps and how to avoid having those state costs transferred to county property taxpayers.
“Our senators and assembly members need to make some of the tough decisions that county officials are making in order to close the budget gaps,” said Dutchess County Executive William Steinhaus. “For years, state officials have ‘fixed’ their budget problems by shifting costs to counties and county property taxpayers, and mandating counties to deliver state services. Our local property taxpayers can no longer afford ‘business as usual’.”
Dutchess County, along with counties across the state, is facing fiscal pressure from declining revenues, shrinking tax base, increased demand for county services, as well as lagging reimbursements from the State for state mandated services delivered at the county level. These fiscal pressures make it extremely challenging to manage the County’s current 2009 budget and prepare a 2010 budget.
New York State Budget Director Robert Megna addressed the joint breakfast meeting this morning to discuss the dire straights of the state budget, noting New York State’s operating budget is facing a $2 billion deficit by December. According to Megna, the state is facing “unprecedented” financial challenges. Megna told Steinhaus and other county leaders that state revenue declines are even worse than the declines seen eight years ago, immediately following 9/11. County officials asked for flexibility and relief from onerous state mandates if state funding is reduced for mandated programs.
Steinhaus commended Megna’s statement that Governor Paterson wants to avoid tax increases and close the state’s gap through spending cuts. “Governments at every level are facing extraordinary fiscal challenges but must recognize that property taxpayers’ wallets are empty. State spending cuts and mandate relief are the only answers,” concluded Steinhaus.

1 comment:

UC Client #11 / Elliott's Advisor said...

It is time for state government to take a good look at other state governmental systems and perhaps learn from them. What is the Empire State doing wrong? Is it social services which shifts a good portion of its costs to the counties? Perhaps our bloated penal system which was greatly expanded to accommodate bad-boy baby boomers in the 1980's is on the decline with dwindling population in the state coupled along the boomers approaching their golden years. Or maybe we lack the ability for coordination of centralized services. Who has the political courage to lay off municipal workers to balance the budget?? That's cuts across the board including managerial as well as blue collar.

They say Connecticut has no county government and functions are conducted on the state and city/town level.Furthermore, New York State's system of local government is quite archaic dating back to the 19th century. What with state, county, cities, towns, villages, and special districts there is bound to duplication of services and territorial sovereignty issues. Unfortunately, there is no or limited accountability either. And out-of-control school districts are passing on their ever increasing spiraling costs to an already overburdened, overtaxed property owner.

More so, the average homeowner in New York State is being taxed out and drawn to the South for permanent residence and lowered cost of living. Much is said over the years by politicians to reduce taxes but that rhetoric is played out as a continuous broken record. So the politicians will point fingers and shift blame but the status quo remains the same.