County government is the administrative and implementation arm of New York State. Counties deliver state and federal programs locally, and for every state agency, there is a corresponding county agency.
As a result of this relationship, each budget proposal that requires counties to finance a state program has a direct impact on local property taxpayers. NYSAC's testimony addressed this linkage for several proposals in the state budget, including legalizing marijuana, Internet marketplace fairness, community college funding, the bottle bill, and others.
"Many of the decisions made during the state budget process over the past several decades have resulted in a cost shift and increased tax burden from the State onto the counties, and ultimately onto the taxpayers," said NYSAC President Charles H. Nesbitt, Jr. "That trend cannot continue."
NYSAC pointed out that 9 state mandated programs consume more than 90 percent of the county property tax levy. The remainder of state mandated programs and county funded programs must come from a small remainder of the property tax cap in addition to locally generated sales tax, which is an extremely volatile funding stream.
Public policies that help counties lower costs and ensure adequate local revenue are critically important.
"We are on the front lines of serious state public policies-including economic development and the opioid crisis-and we look forward to working in partnership with the state to address these issues locally," said Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy, president of the NYS County Executives Association.
The Governor has called the recent news of a $2.3 billion budget shortfall "as serious as a heart attack." According to NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario's testimony, "If the state is facing a severe revenue shortfall as the Governor indicated last week, then the local governments are also ill, and we must work together during these difficult funding times."
NYSAC's testimony also addressed the importance of the 2020 Census, funding for voting reforms, Internet fairness & conformity, community college funding, early intervention services, Raise the Age implementation, shared services, and several other state policies that directly impact counties.
Counties pledged to partner with state lawmakers on these issues and will continue providing the county perspective as state budget negotiations continue.