By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — ALBION — The Orleans County Legislature approved the county’s $76 million spending plan Wednesday before authorizing the re-levying of other municipal taxes and charge backs — and renewing requests for a bailout from the costs of state-mandated programs.
Legislators moved swiftly to pass the budget in a morning session that followed a public hearing Monday that featured little public input. With the last budgetary hurdle cleared, the county government turned to sending a message they want heard in Albany.
The Legislature unanimously seconded a resolution read by Legislator Don Allport calling for the state to take on the costs of Medicaid and several other state-mandated programs, a proposal that was enacted last year when the property tax cap was put in place.
New York state requires that counties cover some or all of the costs of state-mandated programs, which Legislature Chairman David Callard said was the root cause of tax increases — including the $0.12 bump codified for 2013 Wednesday, as the county property tax rate will now be $9.71 for every $1,000 in assessed value.
Callard’s message was simple — taxes will continue to increase without a major restructuring in how the state pays for the programs that counties unhappily fund.
“If there is mandate relief, then taxes would be lower,” Callard said. “Without mandate relief, taxes can’t be lowered. With the costs of mandated programs, we can’t cut enough ... ever eliminating programs to cover the (costs of mandates).”
According to the budget presentation made Monday by County Chief Administrative Officer Chuck Nesbitt, those costs exceed the $15 million property tax levy by more than $3 million, eating into the county’s increasing revenues from sales taxes.
One area that is improving in the coming year is the levels of unpaid recycling-solid waste, school and village taxes. County Treasurer Susan Heard said the county will have less of a burden when it makes those costs whole for municipalities and schools — $90,000 for the school taxes and $11,000 for the villages.
The county will contribute more than $3 million towards those
funds in 2013.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.