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County hopes to gain funds from lawsuit

    SCHUYLER COUNTY—The Schuyler County legislature held a special meeting Thursday, Oct. 18 to authorize hiring a law firm to initiate a lawsuit against New York State to recover Medicaid overburden reimbursement payments owed to the county. The legislature also heard reaction from town officials about the county’s proposed plans to recover funds from the towns.
    The legislature voted to authorize contracts with Nancy Rose Stormer, P.C. and Whiteman, Osterman, & Hanna, LLP to handle the litigation against New York State. County Attorney Geoffrey Rossi explained that the law firms will be compensated on a contingency basis, meaning they will take 36 percent of any recovery they secure for the county and receive no compensation if the county does not see a recovery. Rossi further explained that, in his opinion, litigation is necessary as a settlement would result in “pennies on the dollar” of what the county is owed. He said the lawsuit will seek recovery of prepaid medicaid funds which the State has a contractual obligation to reimburse. Government entities that brought litigation in 2010 have seen recovery this year, said Rossi, “we are talking probably 18 months.” The legislature unanimously approved the resolution to hire the law firms.
    During the public participation portion of the special meeting, the legislature heard from John VanSoest, town of Catharine supervisor. VanSoest said that the town supervisors had met to discuss the county’s plan to either charge back the towns for community college services or reduce the percentage of sales tax revenue allocated to the towns. He relayed that every town supervisor in attendance, one was absent, preferred the sales tax reduction over the community college charge backs if indeed some action had to be taken. The reasoning, said VanSoest, is that the community college charge backs would vary among towns and from year to year depending on the number of students from each town, while reducing the sales tax reimbursement from 24 percent to 20 percent would more fairly distribute the burden amongst the towns.
    County Administrator Tim O’Hearn said that the deadline had passed for the official adjustments to the sales tax structure to be made this year. VanSoest suggested that the towns would be willing to voluntarily give up a portion of the sales tax revenue this year, although there was some question as to how practically that would occur without creating budgetary issues. The administrator and town supervisors will continue discussions as budget season progresses.
    The next regular meeting of the legislature is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 6:30 p.m.




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