Slow Growth In Aid To New York’s Local Governments
County governments welcome State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s latest report providing further explanation concerning the fiscal stresses facing counties and local governments in New York State (see https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/jan13/011613.htm). But there is more to the story.
It is a fact that federal and state reimbursement has not kept pace with rising operational costs facing local governments over the past 10 years, forcing local governments to rely on sales and property taxes to make up the difference.
Here’s the unreported part of the local government fiscal distress.
During this 10 year time period, when rising costs have outpaced State assistance, the State actually reduced reimbursement to counties and shifted more of the costs of State mandated programs on to county property taxpayers.
In nearly every major category of spending, counties are receiving less reimbursement than they did five years ago, while costs and caseloads have risen. New York’s county governments cannot continue to carry the State’s obligations at the local government level.
Over the past decade, cuts in State funding, lagging reimbursements, and cost shifts have forced counties to raise property taxes, cut jobs, eliminate local programs and services, and sell or close community facilities such as nursing homes and certified community health agencies (CCHAs).
A property tax cap cannot be sustained unless the State reduces the costs of their mandates sufficiently to support local revenues.
It is becoming evident that the State simply does not appreciate the counties of New York, which in 2013 are responsible for the implementation and execution of all federal health and human services programs in New York State.
NYSAC, on behalf of the State’s 62 counties, again calls upon the State to provide immediate and measurable mandate relief, timely reimbursements, and increased home rule authority so that counties do not have to rely on increasing local tax revenue to make up for increases in State mandated costs and losses in State reimbursement.
The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.
How has the State shifted costs to county taxpayers?
Let us begin to count the ways…
1. Medicaid – Local contributions have increased from $112 million in 1966 to $7.6 billion in 2013
2. Pension Contributions – County pension contributions have grown from $47 million in 2000 to $1.1 billion in 2013.
3. Preschool special education – from $40 million in 1989 to more than $1 billion in 2013.