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WNY County Legislatures unite in effort urging Governor to provide mandate relief

In an effort led by the Erie County Legislature’s Majority Caucus, 90 county legislators  from across Western New York  have signed a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo requesting that he work with county governments to provide mandate relief. 


The letter was sent Jan. 31, 2017 in response to the Governor’s State of the State address in which he presented a plan to local municipalities, stating that property tax relief will only come through consolidation efforts at the local level. The Governor has claimed to have done everything he can at the state level to lower taxes yet unfunded mandates continue to burden counties.


“After listening to Governor Cuomo’s spending plan, we are very concerned about the blame he consistently places on lower levels of government for property taxes. Counties across New York State are forced to operate under tight budgets due to numerous unfunded state and federal mandates. The Governor cannot expect counties to address these issues without State government doing its part to relieve us of these mandated astronomical costs.  In many cases, more than 90 percent of county budget costs come from just nine state mandated programs. County government has no control over the cost of these programs or how to run them; we are simply given the bill,” said Erie County Legislature Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo. “This letter asks the Governor to work with counties in order to finally provide mandate relief.  Without his participation, taxpayers throughout New York State will continually struggle with the high burden placed on us by New York State and the Federal government.  I demand that Governor Cuomo listens to our concerns and takes meaningful steps to work with all of us instead of simply touting as much spending as he possibly can.”


“We need is a major overhaul of New York State’s unfunded mandates that are crippling counties. More than 90 percent of the annual county budget pays for unfunded state and federal mandates. When Erie County begins the budget process, we are dealing with approximately 10 percent of the budget being discretionary. That ties our hands, making it difficult to invest in our community. Instead of adding to the problem, we should be finding ways to relieve the county taxpayers of these burdens. This helps all of us in county budgeting to properly plan and provide the core services that are necessarily for residents,” said Erie County Legislator Edward Rath.


“Unfunded mandates place further pressure on our county when we're already dealing with rising costs and declining revenues, we desperately need the state to stop passing the buck and provide needed relief for our communities,” said Erie County Legislator Ted Morton.


A copy of the signed letter is attached. It includes signatures from officials in Erie County, Allegany County, Cattaraugus County, Chautauqua County, Genesee County, Orleans County and Niagara County.