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Administrator Warns Senate Home Rule Denials Could Force Rethinking of 2011 Budget Projections

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Administrator Warns Senate Home Rule Denials Could Force Rethinking of 2011 Budget Projections

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
County Administrator Joe Mareane once again cautioned the Legislature that prospects appear dim for gaining State approval of the County's request for a quarter-percent increase in the county mortgage tax, which would cost $1 million in projected revenue for the 2011 county budget.

Mareane said that, in spite of proposing significant increases in state taxes and fees, the State Senate has indicated it will draw the line on home rule requests that will affect revenues, an action that would affect eight or nine counties, including Tompkins.

The counties have launched an intense lobbing effort to reverse this situation, Mareane said, concerned not only about the effects this year, but also for the precedent this could set. If blanket denials of home rule requests becomes a principle, he warned, it could have "enormous impacts."

To fill the gap in projected revenue from the mortgage tax, Mareane said the County would have to direct departments to reduce non-mandated spending by another 3% (a total across-the-board 10% cut), increase taxes by another 3% (above the Legislature's 5% target), or some combination of the two.

The administrator also reported that, while his office is still sorting through reductions contained in the state budget, it appears core programs in the Health Department and Office for the Aging will be affected, with reimbursement cuts in Probation, and in child welfare programs in the Department of Social Services.

Finance Director David Squires also reported that State reimbursement for county social services costs are only being received "in dribs and drabs" and that, if the pattern continues, it will produce "a liquidity emergency" before the end of summer. Squires told legislators, "While benefits are being paid, the reimbursements are not."