State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/I/C - Mt. Hope), today announced information relating to the State budget and its impact on Sullivan County residents.
Sullivan County schools received substantial aid increases under the State budget. Total school aid increased to Sullivan County schools by more than 14.5%, 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
Fallsburg $1,625,951 13.6%
Eldred $ 815,639 21%
Liberty $1,174,424 7.4%
Tri-Valley $1,211,074 18.1%
Roscoe $ 302,95614.4%
Livingston Manor $ 498,460 10.16%
Monticello $4,587,766 20.9%
Sullivan West $1,258,252 11.26%.
"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 me as well as other legislators, and willing to work with me to recognize that different areas of the State have different needs," Senator Bonacic said.
LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE FUNDING:
$780,500 in State funds was authorized for Sullivan County municipalities and not-for- profit organizations. In order to receive the funding, all organizations will need to enter into contracts with the State, which will be reviewed by the Comptroller and Attorney General. The funding includes:
FIRE DEPARTMENTS AND EMERGENCY SERVICES:
The following volunteer fire organizations will each receive $10,000 to purchase equipment: Beaverkill Valley Fire Company; Bloomingburg Fire Company; Monticello Fire Department; Summitville Fire Company; Swan Lake Hose Company; Westbrookville Fire Company; White Sulphur Springs Volunteer Fire Department; Wurtsboro Fire Company.
The following volunteer fire organizations will each receive $25,000 to purchase equipment: Liberty and Hurleyville Fire Departments (funding requested by County Legislator Jodi Goodman); Roscoe Hose Co. No. 1 and the Livingston Manor Fire Department to assist with flood related repairs.
The following municipalities will receive additional State Municipal Aid. This aid is above and beyond the normal municipal "revenue sharing" aid each municipality receives:
Town of Liberty ($40,000 to purchase equipment and make municipal improvements);
Town of Mamakating ($40,000 to purchase equipment and make municipal improvements));
Town of Thompson ($40,000 to purchase equipment and make municipal improvements);
Town of Neversink ($25,000 to assist local fire services requested by Supervisor Greg Goldstein);
Town of Fallsburg ($10,000 for police equipment);
Village of Monticello ($10,000 for police equipment);
Sullivan County ($20,000 to assist with the purchase of a van for seniors at the County Adult Care Center);
Town of Rockland ($50,000 to help with flood related expenses);
Town of Callicoon ($50,000 to help with flood related expenses).
The following not-for-profit organizations will receive State Aid:
Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Association ($5,000 to help fund a caregivers support conference in Sullivan County);
The Recovery Center ($10,000 to purchase equipment);
Delaware Valley Eagle Alliance ($5,000 to purchase equipment relating to Eaglefest);
Gerry Foundation ($75,000 for Sullivan Renaissance 2008);
Yeshiva Machzikei Torah ($30,000 for plumbing and sewage renovations);
Mamakating Post No. 1266, American Legion ($10,000 for capital improvements requested by Town Supervisor Charlie Penna);
Monticello Seniors, Inc. ($1,000 to help fund services for senior citizens);
PRASAD Children's Dental Program ($10,000 to provide dental services to children);
Sullivan County Farmer's Market Association ($2,000 to help with market services);
Sullivan County Youth Baseball & Softball League ($5,000 for equipment);
United Way of Sullivan County ($15,000 to help provide services);
Upper Delaware Council, Inc. ($75,000 to re-grant to UDC members);
Upper Delaware Scenic Byway, Inc. ($25,000 to help promote the Byway);
Weekend Chamber Music ($2,500 to help construct a stage).
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 Senate, at Senator Bonacic's urging, first proposed a state assistance package for those farmers.
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 Sullivan County's nursing homes and hospitals. The Assembly had generally gone along with the Governor's proposal, leaving the Senate to fight to save the funding. Bonacic had gone to Catskill Regional Medical Center during the budget battle to inform healthcare workers and patients about the effects on that hospital - $1.2 million. Those effects, combined with other financial obstacles the hospital has been facing, would have created a serious problem.
The cuts proposed by the Governor, and largely endorsed by Assembly Democrats were mostly eliminated as part of the final budget agreement. "I have been working closely with Catskill Regional to keep healthcare services strong in Sullivan County. In the end, I am pleased the Governor and Assembly worked to find common ground with the Senate so rural hospitals and nursing homes will not suffer as they had originally proposed," 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. Senator Bonacic also secured funding to open an Independent Living Center in Sullivan County. The Senate had passed Bonacic's legislation to create the Center last year, but the Assembly had failed at the time to support the legislation. "Those who live with handicapping conditions can utilize the services offered by Independent Living Centers to help them find employment, housing, and adapt to their circumstances. It has been a two-year effort on my part to open an Independent Living Center in Sullivan County, and I am pleased we were able to have it included in the budget," Senator Bonacic said.
"Overall, my budget priorities of increased education aid, expanded property tax relief, and aid to our hospitals and nursing homes 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.