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Legislators expect to use reserve funds

PENN YAN—The problem of state mandates was discussed at the meeting of the Yates County Legislature meeting on Monday, Feb. 14. Legislator Tim Dennis said he attended the recent New York State Association of Counties meeting in Albany. He emphasized his comments were his own thoughts.
Dennis said he sees a couple of things. The first is that state government is forcing the gutting of optional county programs. The second was Dennis thinks the governor will force municipalities to spend down their fund balance. Dennis said, “Cuts are not realistic until we get mandate relief and mandate reform.” Legislature chairman Taylor Fitch added, “I think the fund balance is very important. It is needed when we are waiting for New York State to reimburse us.” Following the meeting, Yates County Administrator Sarah Purdy said at any given time Yates County must have $5 million on hand to cover expenses.
Ninety percent of the tax levy in Yates County goes to cover the cost of mandates. A mandate is a state-required expense  item. New York State imposes mandates, but does not pay for their implementation.
One example is the number of corrections officers the county must employ. This mandate is imposed by the state Department of Corrections. Sheriff Ron Spike spoke to the board about one service slated for elimination of reimbursement in the governor’s proposed budget. The sheriff’’s office provides marine patrol services on the three lakes that are in Yates County. Spike said, “Albany has its problems. Revenue from this program has never come from taxpayers. It comes from user fees. Last year $6.2 million in these fees went to New York State.” A portion of the funds were returned to the municipality in the past. The planned funding cuts include $35,719 that was submitted for reimbursement for 2010.
 A resolution was passed during the meeting of the legislature recognizing the importance of the marine patrol. It noted, in part, that eliminating reimbursement to counties effective Friday, April 1, would also affect the I Love NY Waterways boating safety account. It would greatly reduce leverage for federal grant funding to the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation from the Coast Guard. The resolution urged the governor to reconsider removing this important financial aid and shifting the entire cost of marine patrol and related services to Yates County property taxpayers.
A concern Purdy expressed is that the county will not get reimbursement for some 2010 expenses. These costs would have to be absorbed by Yates County taxpayers. Purdy said fundamental decisions will have to be made by spring. Some services near and dear to residents hearts may be impacted, according to Purdy.
In other business: No comments were received regarding county plans to apply for a Community Development Block Grant for housing assistance. The county will apply for $400,000.
• Legislators authorized Yates County to continue the imposition of an additional one percent local sales tax. The tax would have expired Nov. 30.
• Fitch reported a Buy Local Campaign is beginning. It is being coordinated by the Yates County Chamber of Commerce. Fitch said he urges people to buy locally because the sales tax helps lower the burden on property taxes.
• Legislators authorized Fitch to execute an easement for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. This will ensure the section of the Finger Lakes Trail that currently runs through a portion of Yates County property is kept accessible to the public. The property contains 97 acres and is in the town of Italy.
• Fitch appointed Amanda Brand to the Youth Board for a term ending in 2012.
 • The legislature appointed members to the Yates County Fire Advisory Board for 2011. All fire departments in Yates County have representatives on the board. Deputy Fire Coordinator, EMS Coordinator and the Chairman of the county Public Safety Committee are also on the board.
• Craig Densmore and Robert Corcoran were reappointed to terms on the Finger Lakes Economic Development Council board of directors for terms ending Dec. 31, 2012.
• William Dragon and Larry Christensen were appointed as Yates County representatives to the Flint Creek Small Watershed Protection District Administrative Board for terms ending March 15, 2013.
• Marilyn (Lynn) Sutherland was appointed to the Yates County Community Services Board, Mental Health Subcommittee for a term ending Dec. 31, 2014.




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