State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/I/C - Mt. Hope), today announced information relating to the State budget and its impact on Ulster County residents.
Ulster County schools received substantial aid increases under State budget. Total school aid increased to Ulster County schools by more than 10.6%, with individual school aid per District, including costs relating to building construction, BOCES, and transportation, as well as general operating expenses such as salaries, increasing as follows:
District Name $ increase % increase
Kingston $4,619,670 10.45%
Highland $1,244,511 12.72%
Rondout Valley $1,523,338 8.74%
Marlboro $ 928,026 13.96%
New Paltz $ 619,758 5.42%
Onteora $ 150,677 1.78%
Saugerties $2,194,614 13.10%
Wallkill $2,645,899 12.04%
Ellenville $1,945,865 15.28%
The total increase in aid for Ulster County schools was over $15.8 million. The Legislature added $5.3 million of that to the total school aid, beyond what Governor Spitzer had originally proposed.
"We received our fair share of school aid. I was pleased to work directly with the Governor to break the former 'shares' agreement, where a disproportionate share of aid went to Long Island. I found Governor Spitzer to be hands on with respect to the budget, accessible to myself and other legislators, and willing to work with me to recognize different parts of the State have different needs," Senator Bonacic said.
LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE FUNDING:
$1,185,200 in State funds was requested by Senator Bonacic and authorized for Ulster County municipalities in Bonacic's Senate District. In order to receive the funding, all organizations will have to enter into contracts with the State, which will be reviewed by the Comptroller and Attorney General. Seventy different Ulster County based organizations will share that funding.
Every fire department in the following towns will receive at least $10,000 in assistance at Senator Bonacic's request: Denning, Hardenburgh, Shandaken, Olive, Woodstock, Hurley, Marbletown, Rochester, Wawarsing, Saugerties, Kingston, Ulster, New Paltz, Rosendale, Shawangunk, Gardiner.
"Our volunteer firefighters are true heroes. They risk their lives to help others, often perfect strangers. They deserve the help and support of elected officials at all levels of government," Senator Bonacic said.
The following municipalities will receive additional State municipal aid. This aid is above and beyond the normal municipal "revenue sharing" aid each municipality receives:
Village of New Paltz ($30,000 to fund youth and family services);
Town of Rosendale ($25,000 to purchase a police car);
Town of Saugerties ($40,000 for a veterans monument, youth athletic equipment, the Chamber of Commerce; and environmental conservation initiatives);
Ulster County Fire Services ($24,700 to purchase safety equipment for firefighters);
Ulster County ($25,000 for the Sheriff's Department to secure the Shawangunk sub-station and for equipment);
Ulster County ($2,000 to help fund a conference for elder care givers);
Town of Ulster ($30,000 for playground equipment);
Town of Woodstock ($65,000 for improvements to town facilities).
NOT FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS:
The following not for profit organizations will receive State aid:
African American Men's Association of Ellenville ($6,000);
American Legion Post 111 Cook-Taylor Post ($10,000);
The Century House Historical Society ($10,000);
Fats in the Cats Bicycle Club ($5,000 for repairs to the D&H Canal path);
Friends of Little Ones, Inc. ($4,800);
Bnos Jerusalem D'Chasidei Belz ($20,000 for camp building improvements);
Mohonk Preserve ($10,000 for the Shawangunk Mountain Scenic Byway);
Onteora Babe Ruth League ($5,000);
Planned Parenthood of the Mid-Hudson Valley ($10,000 for a women's health conference);
Post 8959 De Leo-Braunstein-Maier Post in Kerhonkson ($5,000 for equipment);
Resource Center for Accessible Living ($3,200 for equipment);
Shadowland Theatre ($10,000 for capital improvements);
Ulster County Agricultural Society ($2,000 for a defibrillator);
Ulster County Community College ($2,500 for RSVP);
Wallkill Valley Rail Trail Association, Inc. ($5,000 to help maintain the rail trail);
The Woodstock Film Festival ($10,000 to help promote the Festival);
Ellenville Hospital ($150,000);
Ulster County BOCES ($250,000 to help plan the Hudson School of Math, Science & Engineering).
Senator Bonacic was the first Senator in the State to propose a dairy relief fund as part of budget negotiations. The final budget provided $30 million in funding to assist dairy farms. Dairy farmers are currently experiencing record low dairy prices.
The Legislature also provided funding to expand farmland protection through the use of the purchase of development rights program. Under that program, farmers receive State aid and agree never to sell their farm for development purposes, and agree not to develop the land themselves. The land is kept forever as agricultural or open space purposes.
HOSPITAL AND NURSING HOME AID:
Governor Spitzer had proposed cutting funding for Ulster County's nursing homes and hospitals. The Assembly had largely gone along with the Governor's proposal, leaving the Senate to fight to save the funding. The cuts proposed by the Governor, and largely endorsed by Assembly Democrats were mostly eliminated as part of the final budget agreement. "I am pleased the Governor and Assembly worked to find common ground with the Senate so hospitals and nursing homes - and their patients in our region, will not suffer," Senator Bonacic said.
OTHER BUDGET PRIORITIES:
Senator Bonacic also first proposed additional aid for flooded communities, and $5 million was ultimately made part of the budget for that purpose.
"Overall, my budget priorities of increased education aid, expanded property tax relief, and aid to our hospitals were met. I found 'rank and file' legislators had more opportunity for direct talks with the Governor than in years past, and that the effect of those talks was to find the common ground we needed to adopt a budget within the State's anticipated revenue," concluded Senator Bonacic.