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County takes strong stand

May 20, 2012
The Leader Herald

Fulton County's legislators are fed up with state mandates, and they have good reason. Eighty-five percent of the county budget's tax levy pays for mandated costs.

Repeatedly, the county Board of Supervisors has called for relief from these mandates. Just last week, the board passed a resolution calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Mandate Relief Council to submit mandate-relief proposals to state legislators.

Also last week, the board voted to grant a state-mandated raise for District Attorney Louise Sira, but only for one year. The state says her pay must go from $119,800 to $140,300, a 17 percent increase. The state will pay for the raise this year, but only a portion of it in subsequent years. The county, therefore, wants to bring the district attorney's pay back to $119,800 next year.

We don't know whether the state will allow the county to carry out its plan without a fight, but at least local officials are making a statement: The county doesn't want another state mandate forced down its throat.

District attorneys haven't received a raise in years. Sira may well deserve one, but either the county should be able to decide what to pay its own district attorney or the state should pay for the raises. Under the state mandate, the district attorney's salary would go up 25 percent over three years. In 2013, the salary was scheduled to increase 4 percent, from $140,300 to $146,400, and in 2014, another 4 percent, to $152,500.

Fulton County is not alone in its frustration over this issue. Other counties have debated it - the constitutionality of the state's mandate has come into question - and the New York State Association of Counties is calling for the state to compensate counties for the state-mandated increases.

We applaud Fulton County for taking a tough stand against the heavy hand of state government.



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