Yates County Legislative Chairman Dr. Timothy Dennis has added his voice to those from other local governments within the state who are speaking out against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal for streamlining local government.
Earlier this year, Cuomo announced his proposal that would require county officials to develop localized plans that, by eliminating duplicate services, will reduce local property taxes.
Government officials from smaller entities such as those in Yates County, have responded that the proposal isn’t realistic. Dennis said the proposal was discussed at length during a recent conference held by the New York State Association of Counties, and a resolution opposing the measure was adopted.
The governor’s proposal will require counties to prepare a plan for shared services among all the units of government within the county. If Cuomo’s proposal is approved by the state legislature, the counties will be required to offer such a plan for voters to approve on the November 2017 ballot.
“By unanimous consent, our county delegation has opposed the Governor’s forced shared services referendum proposal as drafted, and we urge the State Legislature to reject it,” said NYSAC President William E. Cherry, addressing county leaders at the conference.
“If Albany wants to explore alternative ways to reduce every property tax bill, then we can help them as respected partners and equals in public service,” Cherry said. “If Albany wants the help and advice of some of the best efficiency experts on the planet to help them lower property taxes, county leaders stand ready, willing, and able.”
At Monday’s legislature meeting, Dennis commented the governor’s proposal does nothing to address reductions of state mandates, which he says amount to millions of dollars while any savings from shared services would result in thousands of dollars.
While the governor lauds the property tax cap and property tax freeze that has impacted local tax levies for more than six years, local officials have said the cost of services and programs required by the state cause the biggest increases in local budgets each year.
The local legislature took no official action on the proposal or Dennis’s comments.
Business on the county legislature’s agenda Monday included (unless otherwise noted, unanimous approval with Legislator Mark Morris of District III absent):
• JAIL POSITIONS: Creation and hiring of a non-union chief corrections officer position at a starting salary of $63,000. In another resolution, the authorized Sheriff Ron Spike to fill the Lt. Corrections Officer position that was vacated when Lt. Clay Rugar retired late last year. The new chief corrections officer will report directly to the Sheriff. Spike says although this is a new position which will rank above the Lt. Correction Officer, the jail staffing level will not increase. Legislators Elden Morrison (District I), Jim Smith (District II), and Terry Button (District II) voted against filling the Lt. Correction Officer post. Button also read an email from Milo Legislator (District III) Mark Morris, who said he opposed the position.
• APPOINTMENT: Appointed Kim Williams of Sherman Hollow Road, Penn Yan to the Finger Lakes Economic Development Center (Yates County IDA) Board, Yates Capital Resource Corp. Board and Finger Lakes Horizon Economic Development Corp. to complete the term of H. Taylor Fitch ending Dec. 31, 2017.
• GRANT APPLICATION: Authorized Dennis to sign a New York State Parks and Recreation grant application for improvements to the Vine Valley boat launch site. The Town of Middlesex has a plan to improve access to Canandaigua Lake for boating and swimming and the improvements and installation of a dock will facilitate easier launching for the Yates County patrol boat and increase swimmer’s safety. Finance Committee Chair Douglas Paddock noted this plan demonstrates what Gov. Cuomo is trying to accomplish with his shared services plan because Yates County, the Town of Middlesex, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation are working together on the project.