LITTLE VALLEY – The Cattaraugus County Legislature has declared this month “Mayday for Mandate Relief” in an effort to let the public know how little control it actually has over local taxes.
“I think it’s important that everyone know 81 cents of every dollar paid in taxes goes to mandated programs,” said Legislator William J. Aiello, R-Olean.
The Legislature made the declaration, in an act sponsored by the entire body, to help raise awareness of the fact that decisions made at the state level have a direct impact on the property tax levy and local community services within the county.
The New York State Association of Counties has identified nine state-level mandates, according to the act, that dictate the bulk of the county property taxes that are levied across the state, with the exception of New York City.
That equates to $4 billion in taxes and includes such programs as Medicaid, Public Assistance Safety Net, Child Welfare Protective and Preventive Care, Special Education Preschool, early intervention, probation, indigent defense and youth detention, according to Aiello.
Though the act only shows symbolic opposition, members of the Legislature feel a stand must be taken to lower the burden on the taxpayer, Aiello said.
In other action this week, lawmakers voted unanimously to apply for funding through the U.S. Department of Justice for police hiring through the COPS Hiring Program.
If successful, the Sheriff’s Office would be able to bring more officers onto the force. The program would fund positions for three years at up to $125,000 per officer.
The Sheriff’s Office would be able to hire officers in high school resource programs, new full-time officers or rehire laid-off officers.
The number of new positions and their status of employment are not known at this time.
The next meeting of the Cattaraugus County Legislature will be at 3 p.m. May 22 in the Legislative Chamber on the third floor of the Cattaraugus County Building, 303 Court St., Little Valley.