MAYVILLE - Medicaid is no longer the problem for Chautauqua County government, according to Fred Larson.
A former legislator himself, Larson told lawmakers Wednesday that it's the non-Medicaid portion of county spending which has ballooned in recent years.
Larson addressed the body at the conclusion of its recent meeting, which featured the county executive's 2012 budget presentation.
"I served on this body from 1985 to 1993," Larson said. "Adopting the budget is the most important thing that any county legislature does. It's where you exercise your power to tax people - whether it's the sales tax, mortgage tax, occupancy tax, motorvehicle tax, surcharges or the property tax. It's an awesome power. And with politics in government, occasionally, the facts sometimes get lost or buried. Here are the facts, not my opinion, about Medicaid."
According to Larson, the county spent a total of $27.6 million on Medicaid in 2006. The cost has since increased to $32.6 million, an increase of $5 million.
The tax levy, however, has increased $13.2 million since 2006 - from $53.8 million to $67 million. That makes the non-Medicaid portion of the tax levy an increase of $8.2 million.
"The state of New York has kept its promise made in 2005 to cap our county's Medicaid share at an annual increase of less than 3 percent about the rate of inflation," Larson said. "It is true that the county will not receive any more of President Obama's stimulus money to support our share of Medicaid in 2012. It was not prudent however or conservative for this county in the 2010 and 2011 budgets to treat the millions of dollars of one-shot federal stimulus money as though it were a recurring revenue that could be counted on in the 2012 budget and the years to come. Mr. Chairman and members of this legislature, Medicaid is no longer, since 2005 with the cap, Medicaid is no longer the problem for Chautauqua County government."
The Medicaid percentage of the tentative 2012 tax levy is 48 percent. Medicaid in 2012 totals $32,065,261. The tentative 2012 tax levy is $67,036,845. The total tax levy as proposed actually equals $70,036,845, but includes the use of $5,000,000 from county fund balances.