MAYVILLE - County legislators had hoped to hear from the region's state representatives at a committee meeting this week.
With an $18 million deficit projected for 2012, the County Legislature's Audit and Control Committee has been holding a special meeting solely about the budget at the start of each month.
At their June 2 meeting, the legislators on the committee discussed the sales tax increase request which state Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, declined to support in Albany. That discussion segued into a larger conversation about the county's current fiscal situation and state issues such as the property tax cap and unfunded mandates.
Interested in sharing their questions and concerns with the county's state representatives, Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, requested that both Sen. Young and Assemblyman Andrew Goodell be invited to the committee's Thursday, July 7 meeting. Nazzaro is quoted in the minutes of the meeting as saying that both caucuses of the legislature should gang up on the state officials - just as lawmakers previously aired their concerns with former Assemblyman Bill Parment, D-North Harmony.
"I think they ought to give us two hours at this committee," said Committee Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville, at the June meeting.
Neither Young nor Goodell will be able to make this month's committee meeting, however. The senator's schedule does not permit her to be at the Thursday meeting, her office said last week. Similarly, Goodell said Tuesday that he has other engagements which he had already agreed to before receiving the request.
Both are, however, interested in discussing the issues with the committee and other legislators.
"I would be more than happy to meet with them and go over what's going on," Goodell said. "Cathy has even suggested that we meet at her office."
John Runkle, R-Stockton, said Tuesday that he will be very concerned and disappointed if the county's state representatives are not at the Thursday morning meeting.
"As everyone in this county is aware, 87 percent of our budget is composed of state-mandated services over which our County Legislature has no control," Runkle said. "Only our state representatives can help us in this regard. Before we prepare a budget for 2012 we need to know, one, exactly where our state legislators stand on these mandated issues and, two, what exactly they intend to do about these issues.
"Will there be mandate relief or won't there be?" Runkle continued. "What is being done on the state level to solve this problem? If it will be solved, how soon should we expect results? In short, we elect our state legislators to represent us in Albany and we expect them to do just that. We need their input and we need to hear from them now."
Scheduled for 8:30 a.m., the Audit and Control Committee meeting will be held in Room 333 of the Gerace Office Building in Mayville. On the agenda is a presentation on five-year projections from Kitty Crow, budget director; an update on borrowing to pay off deficit by Darin Schulz, finance director; the county's financial management policy, and the legislature's office budget.