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Yates rails against state mandates

PENN YAN—Property Tax Cap Proposals and state mandates were the focus of attention for Yates County Legislators Oct. 12.
At the start of their regular meeting, lawmakers viewed a presentation produced by New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). A property tax cap would limit growth of local taxes to one percent. This would apply to all local governments and two thirds vote of the local legislature would be required to override the cap. New York City and the Big Five School districts would be exempt.
One of the greatest concerns is that there would be no moratorium on unfunded mandates. Medicaid is the largest mandate. In 1966 when it began the budget was $115 million. In 2010 it was $7 billion.
Unfunded mandates have been a difficult issue for local governments. Currently 90 percent of county taxes pay for fine mandates. State mandates consume 75 to 80 percent of county budgets. New York State has the highest local taxes in America, 76 percent higher than the national average.
Following the presentation, Legislature Chairman Taylor Fitch read from a prepared statement. He said New York State mandates are the leading cause of property tax increases. He said most counties feel the tax cap is wrong. Fitch said, “Counties are fed up with New York State shifting costs onto us. We are quite capable of controlling our own expenses without New York State interference.”
In other business: Legislators authorized Fitch and Sheriff Ron Spike to sign the 2011 Stop DWI budget. Legislator Donna Alexander emphasized funding for the program does not come from taxpayers. Funds are from violators’ fines. Anticipated revenue of the program for 2011 is $82,428. There is a reserve fund of $39,412.
• Accepted the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) Aviation Capital Project agreement. The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) will pay 95 percent of the allowable costs for engineering design for the construction of a snow removal equipment storage building and construction of the building. The Federal Government will pay a total of $474.94 and New York State DOT $12,418. The local share is $12,417.
• Authorized a contract agreement with Clark, Patterson Lee of Rochester to assist the county with a study update for an extension of a municipal waterline along the Route 14 corridor. Their fee is not to exceed $5,000. The original 2005 study must be updated in order to submit a request for Federal infrastructure funding assistance. Following the meeting County Administrator Sarah Purdy said the original study was commissioned by the county Industrial Development agency.
The study included the problems of availability of potable water to wineries and other areas along Route 14. The need was thoroughly documented, Hillary Clinton, who was then New York Senator, earmarked $5 million to address the problem. After she left office, Senator Kirsten Gilibrand picked up the project. Purdy said if Yates County wants to move on, the study must be updated by February 2011. Water problems in the hamlet of Himrod and water issues in the village of Dundee have been somewhat solved but parts of the study is still relevant. Cost estimated in today’s dollars are needed. The area in question is from Benton and Torrey to Starkey.
• Scheduled a public hearing at 1:05 p.m. Nov. 8 to receive comments of rescinding a local law passed in 1978 that provides no action shall be maintained against the county for certain damages unless the county has received prior written notice. A law later passed contains the same regulations.
• Reappointed Robert Brechko as Democratic Election Commissioner for a term of two years commencing Jan. 1, 2011.
• Recognized October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The next meeting of the Yates County Legislature will be at 1 p.m. Nov. 9 in Legislative Chambers in the Yates County office building on Liberty Street in Penn Yan.




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