Ulster County Executive Proposes Solution to Sales Tax CrisisJun 29th, 2013 | By HV Insider | Category: Featured Articles
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein proposed a solution to the ongoing sales tax crisis by filing with the Ulster County Legislature a resolution to codify the three-year takeover of the State mandated Safety Net Program that he proposed last October.As part of the 2013 Executive Budget, the Hein administration detailed a fiscally responsible plan that solved the decades old debate over who would pay for the State mandated “Safety Net” costs currently born by the Towns and the City of Kingston.
In his 2013 Executive budget speech the County Executive said, “I believe all elected officials serve the exact same taxpayers. I cannot and will not allow towns or the City of Kingston budgets to explode because of Safety Net costs, even if it means we have to make difficult decisions at the County level. So my administration has built a bridge that provides for immediate relief to local budgets while also providing added time for our State Legislators to hopefully deliver real and honest mandate relief.
“This budget includes a fiscally responsible three year “phase in” that completely takes over the Safety Net expenses from the towns and the City of Kingston, a problem that has existed since 1946.”
County Executive Hein added, “In spite of the fact that New York State still imposes some of the most oppressive unfunded state mandates in the nation upon local governments, my administration along with the Ulster County Legislature made the difficult belt tightening choices to free up over $1.9 million dollars to help the Towns and City of Kingston with Safety Net in 2013.”
The Resolution offered by the County Executive, with the support of the Ulster County Legislature will codify the plan he proposed last year as County policy so that the Towns and the City of Kingston will have budget certainty.”
Under this plan the County will pay:
$1,969,347 in 2013 with a 33% takeover.
$4,072,787 in 2014 with a 66% takeover.
$6,693,170 in 2015 with a 100% takeover.
The approval of this plan is contingent upon the continuation of the County’s current rate of sales tax on December 1, 2013. This would require the New York State Assembly to take action on Ulster County’s current Home Rule bill A.5130 prior to November 30, 2013.
The Safety Net program is a State mandated program that is neither mandated nor funded by the Federal Government. The program provides public assistance to citizens that are not eligible for the Federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program.
New York State Social Services Law mandates that the local share of the Safety Net program is to be funded by Towns and Cities. In 1946 the State Legislature voted to continue the mandate that local governments fund a substantial share of this program, but put in place an option that gave the County the discretion and the authority to transfer this State mandated burden from the Town and City property tax levy, to the County property tax levy.
Traditionally, the local share of the Safety Net program was 50% of program costs, but as part of the 2011-12 New York State Budget, both the Senate and Assembly voted to increase the local share of the Safety Net program to 71% of the programs costs, thus, dramatically increasing the burden on our Towns and the City of Kingston. To protect the Towns and the City of Kingston in 2011, the County used fund balance to cover the additional 21% cost shift from New York State. In 2012, the County Executive allowed the Towns to re-levy the 21% cost shift to provide them budget relief and in 2013 the County Executive proposed the County Legislature approved the beginning of a 3-year takeover of the Safety Net burden.
“By the action of the New York State Legislature, the Safety Net issue has grown into more than just a trivial dispute over who pays for what between Towns, the City of Kingston and the County. It is now threatening to cause widespread and irreparable damage to the Towns and the City of Kingston’s ability to deliver essential local services. But at its root, the Safety Net problem really stems from yet another severely under-funded State mandate.” said County Executive Hein.