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October 25, 2013

Head of statewide conference seeks change in Albany

PLATTSBURGH — The head of the New York State Conference of Mayors says it will take strength in numbers to convince state leaders in Albany to make changes that will help localities.

“We need to walk in there with 300 people,” Richard Donovan said at a news conference at Plattsburgh City Hall on Thursday morning.

“That might get their attention.”

‘SERIOUS TROUBLE’

Donovan is on a statewide tour on behalf of the Conference of Mayors to drum up support for legislative changes in Albany.

As the mayor of the Village of Minoa, just outside Syracuse, Donovan said he and his village of 3,450 people have been dealing with difficult state mandates for 10 years.

“Every year, they (Albany) listen to us, but nothing ever happens,” he said.

“My thinking is let’s try something different.”

Donovan said that if leaders in every town government in the state could get just one taxpayer to accompany them to Albany to address state lawmakers, it might make a difference.

“We need to get their attention because we are all in serious trouble,” he said.

NO IMMEDIATE HELP

The high costs of state-mandated programs, such as Medicaid and the employee pension fund, are constant drains on municipalities, Donovan said, and some serious relief is needed.

“We were told that we would get some relief when the tax cap came in,” he said.

“We got Tier VI, but that won’t help us now.”

The state implemented that additional retirement tier in 2011 for new workers that costs less for municipalities, but the benefits from that program won’t be seen until those employees start retiring in at least 20 years.

GRIDLOCK

Donovan, a member of the Resource Party, said part of the problem is the political gridlock that seems to strangle business in the state capitol.

“I am not a political person. I think both parties (Democrat and Republican) have lost their way,” he said.

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