News Coverage on Unfunded Mandates
Madison County leaders speak out against rising cost of state mandatesAlaina Potrikus
Gesturing to the statue of the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice that sits atop the county courthouse, Madison County Supervisor John Becker decried the injustice of state mandated programs that are consuming county property tax revenues.
“The state of New York implements programs, but requires local counties to foot a large part of the bill,” Becker said Monday afternoon at the county’s “Mayday for Mandate Relief” rally in Wampsville. “This is unreasonable, unacceptable and a deterrent to prosperity.”
The event is one of many town hall meetings, press conferences and public hearings planned across the state during the month of May asking the governor’s Mandate Relief Council to submit a package of relief proposals for a vote during the current session of the New York State Legislature.
“Our ship isn’t sinking because we steered into an iceberg,” Becker said. “It’s being swallowed in the undertow of New York State’s powerful current of unfunded mandates.”
Becker said the examples of the local impact of state mandates are plentiful in Madison County, where Medicaid costs make up 40 percent of the county’s $29 million property tax levy.
The county’s share of its pension costs have skyrocketed from $34,000 in 2000 to more than $4.5 million last year, he said.
Other mandated costs include public health programs, probation, community college tuition, indigent defense and other social service programs.
While county departments continue to cut back on their expenses, the impact has begun to fall to local nonprofits that rely on county funding, Becker said.
Theresa Davis of the Madison County Office of the Aging said the county’s $209,945 allocation serves 7,909 senior citizens who rely on services like home care, meals and health insurance counseling.
“As their numbers grow, outside revenue sources have shrunk,” Davis said of citizens over age 60, who will account for 23 percent of Madison County’s population by 2014. “Cutting our funding hurts our organization and hurts our seniors.”