For More Information:
William R. Steinhaus
Dutchess County Executive
(845) 486-2000 firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin D. Fish, Budget Director, (845) 486-2010
For Program Information:
Beverly Allyn, Coordinator, Health Department, (845) 486-3507
For Immediate Release
October 18, 2002
ALBANY-IMPOSED MANDATES CREATE PRESSURE ON COUNTY BUDGET
Poughkeepsie……Two Albany-imposed mandated programs required to be subsidized by local property taxpayers will again be major burdens to the soon-to-be released 2003 County Budget. Two education programs mandating specialized services for children unjustifiably continue to be the obligation of county government instead of school districts where they rightfully belong. The costs of these Albany-imposed mandated services are expected to total more than $17.5 million in the 2003 county budget. Albany will require almost $7 million of that amount be borne by local property taxpayers in Dutchess in the county operating budget.
Budget Director Kevin D. Fish said, “Compounding the problem of ever increasing program costs is the one-two punch of delayed reimbursement of local costs by the state and the state’s failure to reimburse at the rate established by law.”
Presently, counties have full fiscal responsibility for providing services to infants and toddlers with disabilities under the Early Intervention Program (EIP). Counties must pay 100% of the cost for all these services up front with only partial state reimbursement of 50% at some later point.
Counties are also first payers for the Pre-school Special Education Program,(PSE). Albany requires the county to pay 100% of the cost of the service and then wait for reimbursement from the State; again often up to one year later, causing a significant cash problem for counties for another Albany-imposed mandated program in which county government lacks meaningful policy control. In addition to that reimbursement delay, the state is indefensibly not reimbursing counties the full rate of 69.5%, which is required by state law; Albany continues to pay back counties only 59.5% of the PSE program costs contrary to their own law.
In addition to next year’s projected $40.5 million local cost of the state-mandated Medicaid program, other examples of Albany-imposed mandates of significant cost to local real property taxpayers currently estimated in the 2003 proposed county budget include:
the placement of juvenile delinquents in state-training schools at a total cost of over $1 million;
Family Assistance/Social Services $11.5 million; and
Foster Care and Institutional Care for Children $16.1 million, for a total of $28.7 million.
Of this $28.7 million, Dutchess County local real property taxpayers must cover an estimated $11 million.
After factoring in the $6.8 million of local cost for the EIP and PSE programs described above and the $40.5 million local share of Medicaid, there is a total of $58.2 million of local county cost for this handful of state-mandated programs alone.
Paying the cost of all these Albany-imposed mandated programs will siphon county dollars from other county programs like Sheriff’s services, highway maintenance, county parks and local libraries, all which are important to the residents of Dutchess County.
“I am anxious to partner with the Dutchess County Legislature and our local state Senators and Assembly members in Albany to bring about critically needed fundamental reform in the financial relationship between state and county government on these Albany-imposed mandated programs,” said County Executive William R. Steinhaus.
County Executive Steinhaus and Budget Director Kevin Fish have already alerted members of the Dutchess County Legislature, contract agencies doing business with county government, and local elected officials that developing this fiscal plan is the most difficult since the local economic downturn and corporate downsizing in the early to mid 1990’s.
Mr. Fish has warned that a property tax increase is inescapable, primarily due to Albany-imposed mandated programs. The most dominant among these is the Albany-imposed Medicaid program which currently has caused a $2 million deficit in Dutchess County’s 2002 budget and will require an additional $7 million in 2003 for a total of more than a $40 million contribution directly from Dutchess County real property taxpayers.
County Executive Steinhaus said, “These are essential programs serving the needs of our residents, however, counties have little if any say in regard to the administration and costs of these Albany-mandated programs. These Albany mandates should be paid for on a broader state tax base, rather than by local property taxpayers.”
The Dutchess County Legislature will review the 2003 Tentative Proposed Budget during the month of November following the November 1 submission by the County Executive. The Legislature will hold a public hearing on December 3, 2002, and adopt a 2003-spending plan on December 5, 2002.
2002 Press Releases