Mandates need action

We hear a lot of talk about state mandate relief, but we’re not seeing much progress.

An example of the state-mandate burden is in a flier the Fulton?County Board of Supervisors mailed to property taxpayers with their tax bills.

The 2013 county budget totals about $88.8 million. The property- tax levy necessary for the budget is $28.4 million.

Of that tax-levy amount, 80 percent is mandated.

Topping the list of most expensive mandates is Medicaid. Fulton County’s Medicaid bill will be $14 million in 2013.

To be fair, the cost of Medicaid is not only a problem locally. As the information notes, New York state has the most expensive Medicaid program in the nation. Spending per recipient is the highest in the country and nearly exceeds those of California and Texas combined. Many state governments, however, absorb the cost of Medicaid in their states instead of passing the burden to localities.

More than Medicaid can be blamed for pumping up property tax bills in the county.

In all, nine state-mandated programs account for about 80 percent of the property-tax levy. Some of the others mentioned include indigent defense, youth detention and the public pension system.

Considering how much of the county property-tax “pie” is consumed by mandates, leaving only a small slice for other county services, the need for mandate reform is essential.

The information provided by the county should serve as a wakeup call.

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