Friday, April 21, 2017

Broome County Clerk Candidate Joe Mihalko Calls on Albany to Keep Local Tax Dollars Local

(BINGHAMTON, NY) — Broome County Clerk candidate Joe Mihalko joined local leaders on Thursday to call on Albany to repeal and reform state unfunded mandates keep to more local tax dollars in the community. 

Currently, more than half of all Broome County property taxes collected go to unfunded mandates from Albany and 87.5% of all locally DMV fees collected leave the community.

“Our residents pay some of the highest property taxes and fees in the nation,” said Mihalko. “Too often, they see their hard-earned money go to Albany and never return. We need leaders who will stand up for our community, demand our fair share and pass the savings on to the people we serve.”

Mihalko identified five pieces of legislation to address this problem and called on leaders in Albany to act immediately to reduce the burden on taxpayers and local government.

1. Five-Year Medicaid Takeover for Small Cities (S.1251, Akshar) - Medicaid accounts for 52% of the Broome property taxes. This bill calls for a five-year state takeover of local Medicaid expenses for cities with a population of one million or less. The bill also provides that savings passed along to property tax payers by reducing the allowable levy under the tax cap.

2. Increasing the Local Share of DMV Fees (S.1908, Ritchie/A.3397, Brindisi) - As one of the many shared services local municipalities provide, Broome County is mandated to collect DMV fees and process transactions for the state. The state keeps 87.5% of these fees. This bill would increase the local share from 12.5% to 25% without raising fees for local residents. 

3. Public Defense Mandate Relief Act (S.8114, DeFrancisco/A.10706, Fahy) - Requires state reimbursement to counties the full amount of expenditures for indigent legal services and alleviate another unfunded mandate. Passed by both houses, vetoed by the Governor.

4. Reimbursement for DA Salaries Increases (S.519, Young/A.751, Gunther) - Requires the state to reimburse counties for state-mandated salary increases to District Attorneys.

5. Broad State Mandate Relief (S.2323, Griffo/A.2922, Brindisi) - Requires any state mandated program imposed on municipalities and school districts to be funded by the state. 

Leaders from various levels of local government welcome potential relief from the many unfunded mandates imposed upon municipalities in Broome County.

"I agree with Senator Akshar and County Clerk candidate Joe Mihalko that these unfunded state mandates have to stop. I'm proud that the Broome County Legislature passed a set of four resolutions at our March legislation session calling on the state government to address these issues in the ongoing budget discussions," said Broome County Legislative Chairman Daniel J. Reynolds. "Fred Akshar and Joe Mihalko are fighting for local taxpayers, and this is crucial."

Senator Fred Akshar said he's listened to the concerns of local leaders and has signed on as sponsor and cosponsor of the bills outlined by Mihalko.

“I'm proud to represent leaders willing to stand up and demand fair treatment,” said Akshar. “Albany needs to wake up and realize that the current model of crippling unfunded mandates is unsustainable for school districts, municipalities and the hardworking taxpayers.

As County Clerk, Mihalko pledged to continue to strongly advocate for these reforms.

“Unfunded mandates have repeatedly gutted the budgets of our local governments and school districts, forcing them to do more with less,” said Mihalko. “The State needs take some responsibility and reduce these unfair burdens on our communities.”