With county budget season just around the corner, legislators are looking ahead and hoping the state can offer some relief.
The Schenectady County Legislature voted unanimously, Tuesday, Sept. 9, to request that the state Legislature restore funding for mandates handed down to the county, specifically funding to continue services like the Glendale Nursing Home in Schenectady.
There is a significant shift in who is paying for government, said Legislator Karen Johnson, D-Schenectady. "The public needs to understand the difficult position this puts us in."
She said the county is required to levy taxes, but the state places extensive mandates on the county, which raises their budget.
Minority Leader Robert Farley, R-Glenville, said that while he supports the resolution, the county does have to "tighten their belt" as well.
He said the state is facing a budget crisis too, and while they should not "push the deficit downhill," the county needs to look at ways to cut spending on non-mandated items and see how they can operate mandated programs more efficiently.
"It's a combined effort," he said. "We need to have Albany be a partner with us."
"Our State Legislators have expressed their concern regarding the burden of high property taxes on our residents, yet their recent actions would result in a shift of costs from the state to county government," said Legislator Martin Finn, D-Glenville, who introduced the legislation. "The taxpayers of Schenectady County can no longer bear the burden of providing state mandated services without sufficient reimbursement to cover the costs."
Legislators said enacted cuts total more than $1.2 million in the 2008 budget and $2.9 million in 2009.
Included in these cuts are $452,000 to the Glendale Nursing Home in 2008 and $1.6 million in 2009, reduced Medicaid rates equivalent to $130,000 less reimbursements in 2008 and $300,000 less in 2009.