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Essex County board of supervisors head Randy Douglas
Essex County board of supervisors head Randy Douglas

Douglas: county stretched thinner than ever

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Mandate relief--especially on Medicaid costs--was at the forefront of many county leaders' minds at the annual meeting this week of the New York State Association of Counties.

In his budget address January 17th, Governor Cuomo laid out a plan for the state to take over increases in Medicaid costs over the next few years--but some county leaders say that's not enough.

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Nora Flaherty
Digital Editor, News

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Essex County board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas, of Jay, was at the NYSAC meeting. In an interview for the public radio program Capitol Pressroom, he said this year's county finances were stretched even thinner than usual:

"We were also significantly hit with damages from Irene which puts us in a financial burden that’s going to take us years to recover from. So I’d say mandate relief is something that has to happen."

Essex has an annual budget of about $102 million…and Douglas says it spends about $6-$7 million on Medicaid. He says the county’s financial situation would be drastically improved if it didn’t have to pay for Medicaid:

"If we didn’t have this we wouldn’t be looking at possibly selling our nursing home, closing our fish hatchery, laying off people, making significant cuts to contract agencies and libraries, we wouldn’t be able to not upkeep our roads!"

Essex County legislators voted to override the newly-implemented 2% cap on property tax increases; and the county’s new budget raises the levy by 10.5 percent. Douglas says Cuomo’s Medicaid takeover plan is “a good start.”

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