A Coalition Of Concerns Over Unfunded Mandates For decades, the State of New York has imposed requirements on local municipalities to provide certain services or enforce regulations without providing a source of dollars to ensure such services are performed without overtaxing already-tight budgets. These so-called “unfunded mandates” are, to some, a major cop-out by our state leadership, allowing them to avoid making the tough decisions and insist on feel good legislation while passing the tab on to the local governments to actually implement these onerous regulations. Even with higher school, property and sales taxes, its simply getting harder and harder to pay for all the things the state is insisting be addressed by our local municipalities. A group of concerned citizens, business and political leaders, and various organizations is getting together to urge for sanity in New York’s quagmire of unfunded mandates. This group crosses political boundaries and includes county executives such as Westchester’s Rob Astorino, and recently Putnam’s Maryellen Odell, public school superintendents, PTAs and municipal officials. Putnam County schools districts leadership and the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce President/CEO Bill Nulk and myself are also participating in this grass roots effort. Putnam County leadership had its first meeting Monday, July 15th at Maryellen Odell’s office. All in attendance agree that it was time to stop talking about unfunded mandates and time to take action. Westchester County Executive Astorino says, “When 85 cents of every property tax dollar collected by Westchester County is sent straight up the Thruway to Albany, it’s clear we’re losing local control. The time has come to put pressure on our governor and legislators to take action.” Putnam County Executive Maryellen Odell agrees and also says” I am looking forward to a collaborative effort between elected officials, local school leadership and the business community. Something has to be done to maintain and continually improve our quality of life” The stopalbany.com website details our concerns and is a call to action to stand up and be counted. We believe the local communities are best suited to determine how our local tax dollars are spent, to grow local businesses and jobs, and to best educate our children. An online petition is available on the above named web site, and more information can be found regarding STOP Albany on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The time is now to make a difference, so please consider becoming involved. -Jennifer Maher, Chairwoman, the Putnam County Chambers of Commerce
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