State mandates root cause of high county property and sales taxes

by Carol Thompson

The Oswego County Legislature is sending a strong message to Albany- the mandate relief granted by the state in the 2012-2013 budget was insufficient to allow counties to comply with the State-imposed two percent property tax cap over a sustained period.

That’s the message legislator’s are sending to state Senator Patty Ritchie and Assembly members Will Barclay, Ken Blankenbush, Robert Oaks, and Claudia Tenney, all representing Oswego County. Governor Andrew Cuomo will also receive a copy of a resolution requesting the more sustainable and sufficient mandate relief.

The points the legislature has with the state budget include the three-year phase-out of county-paid Medicaid.

This will continue to cost Oswego County taxpayers an additional $451,961 in 2013 and another $225,000 in 2014, reaching a permanent $26 million per year – meaning taxpayers will send one-half million dollars of their hard-earned money to Albany every week for the foreseeable future, according to legislators.

“The implementation of Tier VI in the mandated State retirement system is a welcome change but it will not provide significant financial relief for many years because its cost reductions apply only to new hires,” the resolution sent to lawmakers states.

Mandates consume 82 percent of Oswego County’s annual budget, and the Medicaid mandate by itself is 58 percent of the entire property tax levy, according to county officials.

Senator Ritchie press spokesperson said Ritchie voted to support the Governor’s pension reform plan and a new Medicaid cap what together will save the county almost $10 million over five years.

“She voted to provide $19 million in new state aid to public schools across Oswego, Jefferson and St. Lawrence Counties which, when coupled with the new Property Tax Cap she supported, is holding the line on school property taxes, which previously were out of control,” Ritchie spokesperson Sarah Compo said.

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