Essay/Nonie Flynn: local benefits and drawbacks in state budget
County Treasurer-Administrator continues to oppose unfunded mandates, local sales tax diversion in final N.Y. State budget
PENN YAN -- While overall the enacted N.Y. State budget will offer the continuation of funding for the programs already in place that are mandated by N.Y.S., there will be some positive and negative impacts for Yates County.
Some of the programs that will continue to be funded are the reimbursement to the Board of Elections for the expansion of early voting, assistance for Code Blue homelessness programs, aid for indigent legal services, and public safety grants for Interoperable Communications and Public Safety Answering Points.
On the plus side, there is additional funding for the Board of Elections to pay for capital infrastructure improvements to protect the connectivity and security of county election software. There is increased funding for core public health services, expanded aid for assisted outpatient mental health treatment and the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP). Additional funding is in the budget to improve local roads and bridges. The greatest possible gain for Yates County is the funding made available for capital projects and the acquisition of capital assets, however, we do have to apply for this funding.
What is disappointing with this budget is that there is no taxpayer relief at the county level. We continue to fund over 65% of the state mandated services with our local property tax. It is also concerning that N.Y.S. began the practice in 2019 of intercepting some of our county’s 4% share of sales tax revenue and continues to divert more each year. The initial annual diversion was to fund the state’s obligation for revenue sharing with local governments in the Aid to Municipalities program. Now N.Y.S. is taking some of our sales tax revenue to put in a N.Y.S. fund for distressed hospitals. The state, however is not contributing to either of these programs with any of the state’s 4% sales tax revenue. With the burden N.Y.S. places on local government to pay for state level programs, combined with the sales tax diversion, it becomes more and more difficult each year for county government to maintain fiscal stability and provide local taxpayer relief.
Nonie Flynn is Yates County Treasurer-Administrator.