Local governments are scouring the governor's budget plan to assess the impact on their budgets. YNN's Bill Carey says the reaction in Central New York is a mixture of caution and hope.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Local governments have been waiting for signals from the governor on new steps to help ease their budget burdens. Their mantra has been "unfunded mandates" and a call for reform.
“The local government doesn't control the policy, the rates. They don't control the programs. But they pay for part of the bill,” said Steve Morgan, Onondaga County Chief Fiscal Officer.
The biggest step, outlined by the governor, deals with pension costs which have skyrocketed since the stock market crash of 2008. He's proposing a plan to allow pension costs to stabilize.
Think of it along the lines of your utility bill, which can go sky high during the winter months, but then is lower in the summer. The utilities offer a budget plan which allows you to avoid the big increases during the cold weather months and help give you a stable figure that you can budget for. The governor, in effect, is offering local governments a budget plan for their pension costs.
“This makes a big difference for local governments. Syracuse - it would be $12 million savings - four percent of the budget,” said Governor Cuomo.
The city of Syracuse is waiting to see details of the plan before commenting. Onondaga County, for now, is welcoming the pension idea.
“That alone for us, if we were to, depending on what the final makeup of the budget is, that's potentially $18 million,” said Morgan.
The governor is also talking about capping potential pay raises under binding arbitration, something local governments say could be a major help.
The budget plan goes along with a new commission the governor is proposing that would aid local governments in dealing with structural budget deficits. Problems that, in the past, have been covered by additional state aid payments.
“Resolve the inequity. Don't subsidize it year after year after year. It's only going to get worse. And there is no piggy bank, here in Albany, to subsidize it in the first place,” said Gov. Cuomo.
The new budget debate now begins in Albany and local governments wait to see what emerges as a final plan.