Tuesday, March 08, 2011

SAFETYNET LAWSUIT: CITY VS COUNTY

Anyone who read the papers this week, is aware of the City of Kingston's attempt to sue the County of Ulster. Why? For the extra fiscal and social burden associated with the 'Safety-Net" welfare program. That's why. 
It's back in our conversation because our county representation is urging Judge Kahn to dismiss the charge on the grounds that it has no merit.
Lawrence Kahn is a US District Court Judge. It's up to him to decide if the case goes any further. The Albany law firm hired by the County has pushed the city to prove its claim of discriminatory burden. The task; demonstrate that the county places most of its homeless clients in Kingston and Wawarsing. Simple. At least for the last 20 years.
As housing developments spring up throughout the county, we are seeing more instances of the "billing of pain" being spread to other townships. This will no doubt wake up some of those Supervisors as the impact on their budget starts to grow. 
I say, build more low-income government-subsidized housing like the City of Kingston did. 
Welcome the huddled masses with open arms and wilfully accept the cost of housing those who have been discarded by other towns. Kingston cant do it forever.
 
As stated in the Freeman: The Safety-Net Assistance Program is a temporary assistance program funded 50 percent by the state and 50 percent by municipalities.
Unlike all other counties in the state which pay for the program through the county budget, Ulster County requires that the each local municipality bear the cost of Safety Net recipients living within their borders.
The city of Kingston, the only city in the county, is home to the largest number of Safety Net recipients in the county. In 2010, the county budgeted about $7.3 million for the program. Of that, the city pays about $1.14 million and the towns pay about $1.1 million. The county pays about $1.2 million of the bill, with state and federal monies making up the difference. 

Even if the suit is dismissed by the court, it keeps the issue of equal safety-net burden alive in conversation. The issue usually comes up in the final days of Budget negotiations in the County Legislature and has gotten as many as 10 out of 33 votes to fix the anomaly. 
I say anomaly because we are still the only County in the country that places 50% of the program cost on the individual municipality that houses people in need. ALL other counties that actually have such a safety-net program, share the cost at the County level.
 
With so many members of the Legislature announcing their retirement this December, perhaps those without electoral hindrance can do the right thing on the way out the door this December.

6 comments:

Michael said...

It seems unfair to Kingston, but it has been mentioned when the sales tax was divided Kingston received the most of the tax because it was needed to take care of the welfare. If the county is going to take over this from Kingston it should also retain the majority of the sales tax.

Anonymous said...

The city will not allow the safety net issue to be any part of sales tax talk now that they got what they wanted on the tax. If the city weny back to what it was it would be a wash to absorb the net

Anonymous said...

Sale tax has nothing to do with Safety Net. People should understand first why the sales tax deal was established. Maybe Mike could research it as he was an Alderman at one time.

Anonymous said...

Most of the people who negotiated the sales tax are dead. Good luck

Anonymous said...

One issue at a time. Why can't folks ever deal with just one issue at a time?????

Deal with the unfair burden in regard to the "safetynet lawsuit" - and it someone wants to - when that is settled - go after the sales tax issue - go for it.

Everything gets convoluted. Simple issues are made complex.
Difficult becomes duh!

Anyone that lives in the City of Kingston knows we have an unfair burden in regard to the "Safetynet" program - and unless the City wants to be known a "Welfare" City (PERIOD) - something needs to be done and NOW.

Most of us taxpayers are going to walk pretty soon - and many of them already have.

Get a grip. Don't let this lawsuit go to the wayside. Your quality of life (here) and your children's and grandchildren's (as applies) safety and quality of life (many will not choose to stay here...) are VERY dependent on the outcome of this suit.

Take care a "a".

Then, if you've got to haggle about "b" - fine.

It should be quite apparent that the times of Social Service programs serving as the "economic engine" of the City of Kingston (I heard this stated outright at a public meeting) are OVER.

It is not working and we are not providing quality services via this mechanism - as far as I'm concerned - anyhow! We are simply taking our most vulnerable citizens (and IMPORTS) and placing them on a treadmill to NOWHERE.

[i.e., so many people from institutions, jails, other counties, other states, homeless shelters, etc. are being sent to recovery groups in the City of Kingston that a lot of people don't even feel safe going there anymore - much less on the streets!]

My opinions.

NS

Anonymous said...

If the city gets 1million in extra sales tax and pays 1maillion in saety net i think they could be tied together DUH So if we seperate them then sales tax doesn't come up for five years then the safety net was voted on last year so I guess it has 5 years before being considered