Local leaders not thrilled at budget
Local municipal officials say the 2013-14 state executive budget presented Tuesday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo is fairly typical in that it seems to offer much, but it could turn out to be loaded with devilish details.
Montgomery County Board of Supervisors Chairman John Thayer said the budget looks like Cuomo’s last two, and he doesn’t expect many results from it.
“Once again, I think it’s long on promise and short on delivery,” Thayer said. “The mandate relief we need hasn’t come from the governor, the Assembly or the state Senate.”
Thayer expressed skepticism about Cuomo’s call for economic-development measures.
He said economic development is important, but it doesn’t mean anything if there are problems with the environment of the county.
“Economic development is a two-headed sword. You’re spending money to entice businesses to come to New York state,” Thayer said. “I don’t think that we should be subsidizing businesses to come to New York state. We either have a good environment or we don’t, and if we don’t, why don’t we address that?”
“We’re stuck in a Catch 22,” Thayer said. “If you don’t subsidize business to come in, you don’t get it. And we need businesses to come in to put our people to work.”
Thayer, the Root town supervisor, also isn’t happy with Cuomo’s attempts to make it harder for drivers to plea-bargain on speeding tickets.
He said much of his town’s revenue comes from Town Court. If the governor’s plan succeeds, the state will receive the lion’s share of revenue from speeding-ticket penalties.
“When [tickets] are pled down, the money stays with the local municipalities,” he said. “When they’re not, it goes to the state. Last year in Root alone, the court revenues [were] $60,000.”
Gloversville Mayor Dayton King and Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said the proposed budget isn’t going to offer much for local municipalities to be optimistic
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about. “As far as state aid, it’s going to stay the same [for Gloversville],” King said. “I’m glad he didn’t decrease the state aid, but I don’t see the budget making much of a difference.”
The 2013 Fulton County budget totals $88.8 million, with a tax levy of $28.4 million, and nine state-mandated programs account for 80 percent of the tax levy.
The county also will have a Medicaid bill of $14 million – the most expensive mandate for the county.
The state’s Medicaid is the highest in the nation – nearly exceeding the total Medicaid costs of California and Texas combined.
Stead said county officials haven’t gone through the budget line by line, but the proposal looks straightforward.
“It wasn’t really an exciting budget for counties,” he said. “There’s not a huge amount of negatives or a huge amount of benefits. I didn’t see anything that would really help our budget.”
King said he will work with other officials to press for mandate relief from the state.
“With Gloversville being one of the neediest cities in the state, [Cuomo’s budget is] not going to help us much,” he said. “We’ll see, and we’re certainly going to reach out to our [state legislators] to see what they can do.”