Thursday, December 18, 2014

News
Minimum Wage, Early Voting, NY Safe Act a concern for Herkimer County Administrator
By NICOLE PITT


HERKIMER, N.Y. (WKTV) - A Regional State of the State and Budget Message was delivered to residents of the community by a representative from Governor Andrew Cuomo's office Friday. The Commissioner of the NYS Department of Civil Service, Jerry Boone, went over the main points in front of a couple dozen community members at Herkimer County Community College.

For Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace, there are three main concerns. Wallace says combined, they could cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Governor Cuomo proposes an "early voting system" that would be at least a week long including a weekend, before Election Day. "If you look across Upstate New York the turnout for those elections were very poor," said Wallace. "We've seen voting costs go up over the last couple of years maybe $50, $75, even $100,000. When we look at the new proposal we see about $250,000 in costs to the county tax payers and we think it's just a waste of money."

The governor also wants to increase the state's minimum wage to $8.75 an hour. Cuomo says it will boost the local economy. Wallace says the last time this happened, it had the opposite effect. "The last time this was done we lost a 600 person factory in Little Falls to North Carolina," said Wallace. "That was the last straw. Maybe to people downstate those things aren't very important but for us in Upstate New York those things are very very important."

Boone says there are other things in the works that would offset those costs that local businesses would face. "Those costs like unemployment insurance and worker's comp that really require significant requirements from local businesses," said Boon. "Reforming those would provide relief there. The research and really the evidence shows that increasing the minimum wage, that money is returned to the economy because it enables more spending by the beneficiaries of the increased wage. You try to strike a balance on what is a measured increased that at the same time is not too burdensome for business."

Wallace isn't against raising the minimum wage, he says it should be done at the federal level though, instead of the state, to prevent pushing companies out of New York.

Another concern is the NY Safe Act and the extra money that could end up costing taxpayers, not to mention how it could effect Herkimer County's largest employer- Remington Arms. "Certainly the administration has been in touch with them (Remington Arms) and we appreciate their presence and frankly don't believe that the changes that are being made will adversely impact them," said Boone.

Herkimer County lawmakers are making sure the governor is aware of their concerns. "We now have five representatives in the state legislature," said Wallace. "Three assemblymen and two senators. We're keeping them aware of our concerns so we're trying to do our best to let people know what's going to hurt the taxpayers in Herkimer County."

Another concern for some residents who attended Friday's seminar was healthcare. They want to make sure children are taught the value of proper nutrition at a young age. Boone says fighting the obesity epidemic is on Governor Cuomo's agenda.