Most people know that Ulster County passes one-half of its Safety Net expenses down to the City of Kingston and the towns of Ulster County based on the percentage of applicants within each.
However, a major change out of Albany will be placing a terrible financial burden on the City of Kingston, not to mention the towns throughout the county. Up until recently, the State of New York paid 50% and passed the remaining 50% to the counties. Ulster County is the only county that further splits the expense. They pay one-half and pass the other one-half down to the localities.
Now, the State has changed the formula RETROACTIVELY to January 1, 2011. The new breakdown will be 29% paid by the State of New York with 71% passed to the counties. Ulster of course will pass the increase down to the towns and city. A very conservative estimate shows the City of Kingston being hit with an increase somewhere between $600,000.00 and $800,000.00, which of course means a tax increase.
It is even worse for Kingston because of the phony way this expense is budgeted or --more accurately-- not budgeted. Kingston does not budget the expense and instead simply allows the county to increase city property assessments directly. It was done this way to give the city an artificial budget increase for one year. This happened some years ago.
It is time for Ulster County to stop the madness. Stop bankrupting the localities and pay the expense like other counties do. It is time for the State to address out of control spending and stop just passing the buck to the counties.
It must start with Ulster County. I therefore call upon County Executive Hein and the County Legislature to stop hitting Kingston and the towns. Pay the expense directly like every other county in the State of New York.