Unfunded state mandates coupled with the property-tax cap are leaving counties with a $130 million budget gap in 2013, the state Association of Counties estimated today.
The association, as part of an analysis released earlier this month, said that the cost of nine state-mandated programs is growing by $244 million in 2013 for the 57 counties outside New York City.
Under the property-tax cap, they would only be able to collect $114 million — leaving a gap of $130 million. In a news release, the counties said, “this equation is a formula for failure.”
Counties are preparing their budgets for the fiscal year that starts in January. At least a half dozen counties, including Tompkins and Albany, are proposing budgets that would exceed the 2 percent tax cap.
“We haven’t seen this type of fiscal shortfall in our lifetimes. This deficit is forcing counties to make incredibly difficult decisions,” Orange County Executive Edward Diana, the association’s president, said in a statement.
The group estimates that expenses will outpace revenue by $4 billion by 2012.
The state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo this year agreed to have the state take over the growth in Medicaid costs over the three years. The move will cap counties’ expenses for its largest mandate, which is Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
The state also implemented a less generous pension tier for new state workers. But those savings, estimated at $80 billion over 30 years, will take decades to realize.
The counties want the state to pick up more costs for state programs, such as pre-kindergarten and early intervention programs.
“The fact remains that we are on an unsustainable trajectory in the way we pay for state programs delivered locally,” Stephen Acquario, the association’s executive director, said in a statement.