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State, Local Officials Talk Mandate Relief at Hearing

Governor's office says relief package would save billions for local governments, school districts.

Glen Cove mayor Ralph Suozzi and state assemblyman Charles Lavine attended a public hearing Friday where Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy met with local officials to review and advance proposals which would reduce the burden of state mandates on local governments and school districts.

"This is the single greatest issue of our financial stability," said . "Unfunded mandates have such an effect on the county - our pension costs went up from $94 million to $113 million from 2010 to 2011, and in 2012, it's $160 million. We've managed to absorb and reduce costs to avoid passing on a tax increase, but we need help to fix this issue."

Mangano also cited other unfunded mandates in 2012, such as the $250 million for Medicaid and $175 million for the Early Intervention Program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

"These are good programs, I think we can agree on this," he said. "The savings from New York State are welcome relief."

"We've spoken about this before with various state organizations," Suozzi said after the meeting. "Everything we're talking about applies to Glen Cove."

The mayor became familiar with the effects of mandate costs over the course of preparing the city's budget for 2012.  Pension costs mandated by the state increased by $1 million and health insurance costs went up by about $500,000, amounting to a $1.5 million, 6.6 percent increase just as Gov. Andrew Cuomo's two percent property tax increase cap took effect.

Suozzi and the Glen Cove City Council  by absorbing the costs of public employee pensions and healthcare through staff reductions which saved $550,000, as well as $100,000 in cuts at the Glen Cove Senior Center and lowering debt service payments.

Assemblyman Charles Lavine sits as chairman of the assembly's Administrative Regulation Review Commission.

"The need for mandate relief in New York is compelling," he said. "The neighborhoods I represent are in a county infamous for collecting the second-highest property taxes in the state. I look forward to seeing these relief programs not only lowering property taxes, but also reaffirming New York as a great place to raise a family or start a business."

The hearing was also attended by state senator Carl Marcellino, who said he hoped for fast action on the part of the mandate relief council.

According to the governor's office, the proposed relief package would provide billions of dollars in savings to local governments and school districts, and would include Medicaid relief, pension reform and early intervention and preschool education reforms.

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