NYSAC: Counties to be socked with increasing pension costs

by Carol Thompson

While the property tax cap appears good in theory, county governments are struggling to keep ahead of the seemingly never-ending costs New York State is handing down to local taxpayers.

The New York State Association of Counties announced last Friday that, once again, the local taxpayer is getting stung — this time with pension costs.

Last week’s announcement by the state comptroller that counties’ pension contributions (and the contributions of all employers in the state’s pension system) will increase from 18.9 to 20.9 percent for non-uniform and from 25.8 to 28.9 percent for police and fire is troubling news for county governments, NYSAC reported.

“Faced with a multi-year, multi-billion-dollar fiscal gap and a state imposed cap on property taxes, county governments across the state will have great difficulty making this payment,” the NYSAC said. “Our counties are already having difficulty putting together balanced budgets for 2013.

“This 10.5-percent increase will consume the entire allowable increase under the state-imposed two-percent property tax cap for 2013,” it continued. “All other costs necessary to run county government will very likely be above the cap.”

Since 2000, county pension contributions have grown from $47 million to more than $900 million in 2013, according to NYSAC. “The trend is simply unsustainable and has caused serious fiscal problems in every New York county,” the release states.

Between pension contributions and local Medicaid costs, county taxpayers will send $8.5 billion to the state capital in 2013.

For Oswego County taxpayers, they can expect to send an anticipated increase of $1.3 million for 2013, according to County Administrator Phil Church. Those numbers will be re-worked this week based on last week’s announcement, Church noted.

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