MID-HUDSON NEWS: UNFUNDED STATE MANDATES HIGHLIGHT ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION
MAHOPAC – Local officials from Putnam and Dutchess counties joined forces on Saturday to call for state relief from unfunded mandates.
Those mandates “are crushing our local governments and school districts all across the state,” said Senator Gregory Ball (R-Patterson), who called the session of his Unfunded Mandate Relief Advisory Council in Mahopac.
“When we passed the two percent tax cap, we promised real unfunded mandate relief. We must now deliver on our promise to immediately stop the bleeding and deliver this much needed mandate relief,” Ball told the group.
The senate last session passed legislation that would require the state to fund any program that imposes a mandate on a municipality or school district. The legislation did not make it through the Assembly.
Mahopac Central School District Superintendent Thomas Manko told the panel that school districts “are left footing the bill” when it comes to unfunded and underfunded mandates from Albany and Washington.
Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Robert Rolison, chairman of Ball’s advisory council, said counties, local governments and schools across the state are faced with unfunded mandates leaving them with limited resources for discretionary programs. He pointed to only 28 percent of Dutchess budget money being available for services like sheriff’s law enforcement patrols, emergency response, and repairs to bridges and roads.
Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell said she was “deeply disappointed and utterly frustrated by the fact that there has been no mandate relief as promised.” She said the county has to deal with more than 200 mandated programs from the state and federal governments. (ARTICLE)