By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – The county, town and village governments are facing a possible 20 percent reduction in state aid/reimbursements from Albany unless the federal government steps in to help, County Treasurer Allen Ruffles, county Coronavirus Task Force chairman, said today.
Ruffles included that news in a transcript he prepares each Monday to brief local officials on impacts of the continuing coronavirus threat.
“As of now there has been no aid coming from the federal government and (state Budget Director Robert Mujica) put out a release saying to expect at least a 10 percent decrease in State aid/reimbursement,” Ruffles wrote. “But we won’t have any actual details until May 1.”
Other highlights of the synopsis, which recaps a weekly telephone briefing Ruffles gives local officials, include:
- In a NYSAC budget webinar last Friday, Ontario County ran some sales-tax projections showing a 45 percent dip, larger than Otego’s projected one, in the same top categories as Otsego: car dealerships, restaurants and general merchandise. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what’s going to happen in Otsego County,” Ruffles said, “but we need to be prepared as they have the same top categories that we do.”
- The latest round of COVID-19 legislation at the federal level contains no funding for localities. Senatoe Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said states should “just declare bankruptcy.” Localities discussed how to act locally to help each other if no U.S. aid is forthcoming.
- The localities were advised to keep up on what’s happening in Alaska, Georgia, Texas, South Carolina and Tennessee, which have begun easing their shutdowns this week. “We’ll have to see if their numbers go back up or not; and if they don’t, what measures they put in place to open up but prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Ruffles said.
- If a meeting is being recorded, no paper transcript is necessary unless a citizen asked for it.
- May 1 will be an important date, as the state budget office will decide on severity of cuts to localities. “The other date is May 6, that will be when we get our next sales tax payment that covers March 23-April 22,” said Ruffles. “We’ll have a better idea of how sales tax will be affected going forward once that payment is received. “
The towns and villages will be briefed next at 10 a.m. Monday, May 4.