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Genesee lawmaker blasts state mandates

BATAVIA – Genesee County Legislature Chairman Raymond F. Cianfrini called out New York for its “dreaded state mandates” during his State of the County address Wednesday night in the Old County Courthouse.

Speaking to about 25 people, most of them county employees, Cianfrini said he has high hopes for Genesee County in 2015 – calling this “the year of progress” – but is not as optimistic when it comes to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration.

“In reviewing the governor’s 2015 budget proposal, I continue to see little or no relief for counties from the dreaded state mandates that consume 82 percent of our tax levy,” he said.

“While touting a $5.4 billion windfall (from bank settlements), the governor does nothing to provide property tax relief,” he added.

Cianfrini urged the state to increase counties’ share of revenue generated through Department of Motor Vehicle services from its current 12.7 percent, improve access to broadband to unserved or underserved communities and facilitate the state’s takeover of indigent defense spending over three to five years (to) “relieve the counties of this burden.”

He also said he would like to see increased funding for probation and other alternatives to incarceration, noting that Genesee County’s Probation Department “utilized its confinement option program that resulted in 848 jail days being saved, which substantially decreased our jail operating expense.”

At the county level, Cianfrini reviewed Genesee’s achievements in 2014, which included the implementation of a new $10.5 million public radio communication system, tourism bed tax revenues of $443,000 – “generating an impressive 27 percent return of $93,000 on our county investment to the Chamber of Commerce of $350,000” – and the hiring of new “talented and energetic” management employees and department heads.

Cianfrini reported that the county’s unemployment rate was 5.6 percent in December, the lowest for that month since 2006, and a growth in per capita income of 6.16 percent in 2014.

For 2015, Cianfrini said he hopes to boost the salaries of the county’s management personnel who, due to budget restraints in recent years, “have received little or no pay increases.”

Cianfrini also mentioned the construction of a new terminal and hangar at the Genesee County Airport and the building of a student success center and wellness/event center at Genesee Community College as key 2015 projects, and said he anticipates the sale of the Genesee County Nursing Home.