Mouth That Roars

Bill Liblick has made a name for himself of National TV Talk Shows where he spouted his outspoken views from the front row. Now he offers you his opinion every week in the "MOUTH THAT ROARS" Column in the Sullivan County Post.

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October 1st, 2010

State mandates must become election year issue

As Sullivan County begins to tackle with our increasing fiscal crises it becomes more and clearer that New York State mandates are crushing Sullivan County.

The State of New York is one of only two states in the nation that requires counties to send locally generated tax dollars to the State for the Medicaid programs.

According to County Manager David Fanslau, in 2011, we will be forced to send $20 million to Albany for the Medicaid program, and that is just the beginning.

Those seeking statewide office including gubernatorial candidates Andrew Cuomo, and Carl Paladino and State Senate candidates John Bonacic and David Sager, must be forced to discuss the issue of state mandates in their campaigns. Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, who is running unopposed, must also join in on the discussion.

Fanslau told me “social services mandates will drive nearly $76.5 million in spending in 2011, which includes more than $33.2 million in direct funding from Sullivan County’s taxpayers. That $33.2 million takes huge chunks out of sales tax and mortgage tax revenues, as well as, pushing the costs of most other mandates and services onto the property tax levy.”

“Sullivan County’s 2010-2011 bill from the state is $5.9 million – rate for tier 4 is roughly 11.2%, however, the 2011-2012 bill (estimated at this point) from the state is roughly $8 million – rate for tier 4 is roughly 15.6%. This represents roughly a 40% increase that must be absorbed by the property tax levy. The 2009-2010 Bill from the state was $3.78 million. The pension bill has more than doubled in two state fiscal years and payroll has increased minimally due to vacancies and layoffs.”

In addition to social services, there are other state mandates the County must provide for.

There is a $4 million contribution to the Sullivan County Community College, even though the State government has continually failed to fund its statutory obligation. The costs are closer to $6 million, because we pay charge backs when a student attends a college in another County. More than three-quarters of our expenses are sent to Orange County Community College.

“This is the reason that I had suggested that a regional multi-county community college be explored, as there are more than one such system in existence in the upstate western portion of New York State,” Fanslau noted.

Let’s not forget that the State provides no funding for costs of operating the County Jail, but the State has the regulatory authority to mandate staffing and other regulations.

Sullivan County taxpayers must also provide for the indigent. This expense is nearly $1.5 million or 3% of our property tax levy. The State should instead provide for those in need.

The State also does not provide the County with funding required by statute to fund the probation department, yet we are required to adhere to directives.

State mandates are literally killing the taxpayers of Sullivan County. We hear them talk about reform, but what are Bonacic and Sager going to do about it?

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