The newly unveiled St. Lawrence County budget represents a step in the right direction when it comes to getting the county’s finances back on track and providing real relief to hardworking taxpayers.
By presenting a plan that will immediately reduce property taxes, St. Lawrence County lawmakers are helping to alleviate the burden placed on homeowners.
Making this possible is the “home rule” legislation allowing St. Lawrence County to set its own sales tax rate. As a lawmaker who has spent the past several years working to reduce taxes, I remain opposed to raising taxes in St. Lawrence County, and anywhere else in New York State.
However, St. Lawrence County lawmakers have made a case that the home rule legislation is an important piece of the puzzle that will enable the county to rebuild its fund balance and save hardworking county taxpayers millions of dollars in unnecessary borrowing costs.
Extra Funding is in Addition to a Record $20 Million in State Aid for Local Highways
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced that the new state spending plan includes extra aid for local highway departments that have had their budgets affected by this winter's severe weather.
Contained in the new State Budget is an extra $2 million in aid for municipalities in the Central and Northern New York regions Senator Ritchie represents. The support is part $40 million in special, onetime funding allocated for local highway departments having to deal with the aftermath of a particularly brutal winter.
“This year, the ice, snow and cold hammered Upstate New York, placing a heavy burden on highway departments having to deal with an increased amount of weather-related cleanup and damages,” said Senator Ritchie.
“Earlier this year, I met with more than four dozen local highway officials from our region who requested extra help for critical maintenance and repair projects that would provide relief to local budgets—and to local taxpayers. I’m pleased that this year’s State Budget recognizes the unique challenges presented by our most recent winter by including extra aid for municipalities trying to make ends meet.”
Measure Would Let Watertown, Other Local Police Use County Lockup for Detainees, Cuts Costs to Taxpayers
The State Senate Wednesday approved a shared-services bill authored by Senator Patty Ritchie that would allow Watertown and other local police to once again use the Jefferson County jail to hold detainees prior to their arraignment.
The bill (S.7138) fixes state law to allow the special holding arrangement. Once approved by the Assembly and signed into law by the Governor, the county and city need to reach a mutual agreement to resume that arrangement.
“The state is challenging local governments to find ways to share services, cut costs and provide relief for local taxpayers,” Senator Ritchie said.
Measure Proposed by Local Mandate Relief Working Group
State Senator Patty Ritchie has announced her bill to provide mandate relief to local school districts by eliminating the duplicative requirement for annual visual inspections of school buildings has passed the State Senate.
The measure was first suggested by Senator Ritchie’s local Mandate Relief Working Group. Established in 2011, the group—which includes local leaders from Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence Counties—aims to find ways to provide relief to hardworking New York taxpayers by slashing mandates. Since its founding, they have proposed two dozen recommendations for cutting government spending and eliminating costly, unfunded mandates, several of which have been enacted into law.
$200,000 Kickstarts Project to Bring More Shipments, Jobs to the Facility
State Senator Patty Ritchie today announced that she has secured $200,000 in special state grant funding to start dredging at the Port of Ogdensburg.
“The future of Ogdensburg’s deep water port is at risk from 30 years of silt build up that makes docking more difficult, dangerous and costly,” said Senator Ritchie. “This funding helps kickstart the dredging project, protects jobs and adds to the Port’s potential to increase shipping and work opportunities.”
Mandate Relief Measure Clears the Way to Allow Local Police Use County Lockup
A mandate relief measure sponsored by Senator Patty Ritchie that will let Watertown and other Jefferson County police forces once again use the county jail to hold detainees—a long-standing practice that helped save local tax dollars until state inspectors nixed the arrangement—was signed into law today.
“The long-standing and common sense practice of sharing jail facilities saved money for taxpayers across Jefferson County, until the practice was stopped earlier this year,” Senator Ritchie said. “Albany should support local governments in finding innovative ways to share services and cut costs, and so I’m pleased that the Governor has signed my bill into law.”
One month after the kidnapping of two young Amish girls in St. Lawrence County, State Senator Patty Ritchie hosted a gathering Friday evening to celebrate the region’s community spirit and thank all those who helped return the girls safely to their family last month.
“When tragedy struck, the members of our community stepped up to the plate to support the Miller family and their two young girls,” said Senator Ritchie. “There were law enforcement and emergency responders who put in long hours, ordinary citizens who aided in the search effort, community members who donated food and drink, members of the media who brought much-needed attention to the ordeal and put pressure on the kidnappers and so many more people who simply said a prayer for the safe return of the girls.”
“The generosity and willingness to help demonstrated by our community was truly inspiring—and makes me so proud to call this region “home.” Tonight’s event was just a small way to say thank you to the hundreds of people who had a hand in the outpouring of support for the Miller family.”
Lowering Costs to Taxpayers by Recruiting Local Experts
State Senator Patty Ritchie is once again turning to leaders of local government, including newly elected members of the St. Lawrence County Board of legislators, to help eliminate unfunded state mandates and reduce costs for local taxpayers.
Senator Ritchie announced that she has named County Legislator Joe Lightfoot of Oswegatchie, and incoming Legislators David Forsythe of Lisbon and Larry Denesha of DeKalb to her Mandate Relief Working Group, which she created in 2011 to help deliver on her promise to reduce expensive mandates that drive up costs for counties and local governments. The group will be co-chaired by St. Lawrence County Legislator Kevin Acres of Madrid and Lightfoot.
Since then, the panel of city, county, village, town and school leaders has proposed two dozen recommendations, and several have been enacted into law.