Queensbury supervisor launches website touting mandate relief
Queensbury Supervisor At-Large, Mark Westcott, is spearheading a statewide effort to tackle mandate relief. YNN's Matt Hunter reports.
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QUEENSBURY, N.Y. -- Warren County's elected officials have a growing problem on their hands. Saddled with the rising cost of nine state mandated programs -- including Medicaid, pensions and child welfare, county leaders said they're quickly losing the ability to balance the books with stagnant sales and property tax revenue.
"In Warren County we're looking at a situation where in the next six to eight years, if something isn't done, we're almost looking at the elimination of local community services," Queensbury Supervisor At-Large Mark Westcott said Monday.
Warren County is hardly the only one fighting to tread water.
The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) predicts at the current rate, New York's counties will amass a combined $32 billion in deficits over the next eight years.
In hopes of keeping local governments solvent, Westcott has launched the web site EnoughMandates.com to raise awareness.
"Our approach has been, here are the facts, it's not sustainable," Westcott said.
Westcott and other members of his group are now trying to spread that message across the state with a grassroots effort known as "Mayday for Mandate Relief."
They're calling on local officials to host town hall meetings and press conferences to call attention to the issue. They've already received the backing of NYSAC
"These state mandated programs and services are growing beyond both of those revenue streams,” said Mark LaVigne, NYSAC’s deputy director. “Therefore, counties have two choices: they either increase property taxes above the cap or they cut local programs and services."
By raising public awareness, Westcott hopes taxpayers will pressure state lawmakers to enact reforms.
Governor Andrew Cuomo's office has already compiled an 11-member task force to examine the issue many fear could be broke beyond repair.
"By bringing it to people's attention, we are hoping they will contact their legislators and ask them to reform the program so that these programs will be retained for future generations," Westcott said.
For more information, head to www.enoughmandates.com