State Could Raid Counties’ Coffers To Fill Budget Gap


State Could Raid

Counties’ Coffers

To Fill Budget Gap

Medicaid Shortfall Alone May

Cost Otsego $1M, Ruffles Fears

By JIM KEVLIN •  Special to

Allen Ruffles

COOPERSTOWN – As the State of New York begins to assess the impact of Governor Cuomo’s emergency declaration, issued Thursday, the chairman of Otsego County’s Emergency Task Force is fearful of the impact on the county budget.

An initial assessment by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, posted in letter form on his website, estimates revenues will be “$4 billion below projections in the Executive Budget of $87.9 billion.”   That figure is in addition to the $6 billion deficit the governor has been projecting, mostly due to Medicaid overruns.

“If the state comes in and swipes that from us, that a million bucks right there,” county Treasurer Allen Ruffles, who also chairs the local task force, said this morning.

Specifically, that would cost Otsego County $910,000 in Medicaid overruns alone.   The U.S. aid package now being considered in Congress would provide an extra 12 percent in Medicaid relief to localities; if Albany keeps that as well, the county would lose another $100-120,000, he said.

In the first week since county Board Chairman Dave Bliss, R-Cooperstown/Middlefield/Cherry Valley, declared a local state of emergency on Saturday, March 14, the task force has focused on ensuring on implementing the governor’s directive to help ensure the safety of the county workforce.

The local task force is now trying to figure out and estimate cost of a prolonged cessation of much of the county’s business sector, Ruffles said, in particular after Cooperstown Dreams Park announced Friday it is cancelling its 2020 season.

County Board Vice Chair Meg Kennedy, C-Hartwick/Milford/New Lisbon, is the first local rep to served on the board of directors of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), which has been computing the emergency’s impacts on its members.

A NYSAC assessment of the emergency’s cost to Otsego County government is forthcoming, and Ruffles said he is generating an independent assessment, so the two documents can be compared to come up with the effective response.

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