May 12, 2008
State Budget Shifts Many Costs to the County
Now that the dust is settling from the State Legislature's adoption of a 2008-09 budget, our county leadership is taking a close look at how the state spending plan will impact Oswego County taxpayers. And it's not good news.
The bottom line is -- although the state did back off on local cost increases in a couple of areas -- the new state budget shifts an even greater share of state costs to local governments. Counties, towns, villages, cities and non-profit agencies are already being impacted.
A month ago I shared with you our concerns that the State Legislature wanted to enact changes that would increase our costs of public assistance and juvenile detention programs. The State Legislature heard that message and turned down those proposals. And also on the positive side, the state increased the CHIPs program (County Highway Improvement Program) budget by 13 percent.
However, the good news ends there. The final state budget resulted in increased county costs across the board. The State enacted a $200 million, or 2 percent, cut in aid to localities. The state actually increased its spending and the number of state jobs, but did not make the necessary cuts to reduce its budget deficit.
What specific areas are affected?
All services that receive state aid are impacted by the cut, except for Medicaid, certain public assistance programs, and pre-Kindergarten special education. The impact of the State's budget alone to Oswego County's budget is the equivalent of 5 percent of the county tax levy. In most cases, the state will reduce county claims for funding and reimbursements by 2 percent.
What are we doing about it?
First of all, I will urge members of the County Legislature to continue to be frugal in spending for the rest of 2008.
We'll be closely examining reports from the state Commission on Local Government Efficiency and Competitiveness and the Commission on Property Tax Relief, to see how shared services and relief from state mandates can be accomplished..
We'll be looking at cooperative purchasing with other municipalities and counties for items such as fuel to get more competitive prices than we currently receive on the state's bid contracts.
We're also looking closely at sources of additional revenue. We will be examining the current gas cap to determine if any savings are actually being passed on to consumers, and whether that revenue could be used to lessen the state's impact on our property taxes.
Oswego County residents can be assured that this Legislature and county administration will be working diligently throughout the rest of the year to find ways to lessen the impact of the state budget on our property taxpayers.
Questions about the Oswego County Legislature?