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“Mayday for Mandate Relief” Calls on State Legislator to Prohibit New or Expanded Mandates on Local Governments
This year's enacted state budget shifted $39 million more to county taxpayers to fund Foster Care, a program that the state requires counties to provide and local taxpayers to fund.  This one state action is evidence of what's wrong with property taxes in New York State, according to the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), which is declaring the month of May “Mayday for Mandate Relief.”

“Mayday” is an international call for help, and this year's Mayday for Mandate Relief campaign calls on the State to provide much-needed help to counties through mandate relief measures.  

“When the state decides they no longer want to pay for one of its programs, then they get the funding from somewhere else. In many cases, that funding comes from property taxes,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario. “County property taxes fund the state's Medicaid program, public defense, safety net, temporary assistance for needy families, preschool special education, foster care, probation, and others.”

The 2017-18 State Budget also requires counties to expand Indigent Legal Defense Services and implement the state's provisions to raise the age of criminal responsibility. Both measures will require counties to hire more staff and expand services, with the hope of retroactive state reimbursement. Ironically, in the same budget that they increase costs for counties, the State is requiring counties and local governments to take actions that will reduce property taxes.

“The state wants to have it both ways. They take county property taxes to pay for their own programs, they increase our responsibilities, and then they blame local governments for high property taxes. It doesn't make sense,” said NYSAC President William E. Cherry, the Schoharie County Treasurer. “If State Lawmakers really want to do something to control property taxes, then the first thing they should do is stop asking property taxpaying homeowners and business to pay any more for their programs and services.”

Thanks to Senator Joseph Griffo (R, Oneida) and Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi (D, Utica), lawmakers have an opportunity to pass legislation (S.2323/A.2922) that would require the State to fully fund the cost of any new mandate or the expansion of an existing mandate that is placed on local governments or schools.

“This year's Mayday for Mandate Relief campaign is focused on one thing: We call on State Lawmakers enact this “no new unfunded mandate legislation,” said President Cherry.  “Legislators need to acknowledge their role in high property taxes, and then they need to pass this bill to take the first incremental step in helping their partners in local governments protect our homeowners and businesses from runaway state mandates.”