Madison County officials blast Cuomo veto bill

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WAMPSVILLE — Madison County Board of Supervisors Chairman John M. Becker expressed disappointment with state Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s decision on Friday to veto legislation that would have
granted the county host county status.

Madison County is one of eight counties in the state that host Indian gaming but is the only one to not receive compensation for the use of its roads and water and sewer lines.

Had the county received host county status, it would have received a larger share of what the state receives from slot machine revenue from the Oneida Indian Nation.

Becker responded to Cuomo’s decision in a prepared statement titled “Governor Cuomo Tells Madison County Residents to Drop Dead.”

“The governor constantly touts his commitment to Upstate New York, but I guess that does not include Madison County. I am not sure why our residents are being treated differently than every other county’s residents,” he said.

Cuomo said he would advise the state budget division to explore what he termed an appropriate amount of revenue from the state’s share of Oneida gaming revenue, but said that he would not reopen the agreement between the state, the Oneida Indian Nation and the two counties.

“As drafted, this bill could compromise the multi-party compact that has been in place since 2013. I am therefore constrained to veto this bill,” Cuomo said in a prepared statement on Monday.

“I recognize that Madison County is impacted by gaming devices located within its borders,” the governor added. “Therefore, I am instructing the director of the Division of the Budget to communicate with the sponsors of this bill to review and explore a revenue sharing formula that would provide Madison County with an appropriate portion of the revenue generated from such gaming devices.”

New York State, the Oneida Indian Nation, and Madison and Oneida counties entered into a gaming compact on May 30, 2013.

As part of that agreement, Madison County receives an annual payment of $3.5 million each year, and received a one-time payment of $11 million in 2013.

It had sought additional 25 percent of the Oneida Nations payments to the state because it provides infrastructure to SavOn convenience stores and the Yellow Brick Road Casino in Chittenango.

The Oneida Nation owns and operates five SavOn stores in the county.

The tribe had no gaming facilities in Madison County when the agreement was approved by the tribe, state and both counties.

Becker said since 2014 the county has followed Cuomo’s direction to settle the issue.

The governor’s office told the county to meet with state gaming commission to draft a supplemental agreement.

This approach failed.

The county was then told the disparity would be handled through the state budget process, although the issue was not addressed during budget talks.

The governor’s office then recommended legislation to change the issue, and it passed in both the state senate and assembly by a total vote of 183-5.

Sen. David J. Valesky, D-53, Oneida, and state Assemblyman William D. Magee D-121, Nelson, joined Madison County’s Board of Supervisors Sept. 22 to urge Cuomo’s passage of the bill.

“It goes without saying that we are most disappointed with the recent veto of Madison County gaming legislation that was overwhelmingly approved by both the senate and assembly earlier this year,” they said in a joint statement.

“Madison County now hosts casino gaming within its borders but does not receive host community benefits — a situation this legislation would have rectified,” their statement added.

“We are not sure why Madison County residents continue to get the run-around from the governor’s office,” Madison County Vice-Chairman Daniel S. Degear said.

Both Valesky and Magee said they are placated by Cuomo’s promise to have the state budget division review the situation.

“We are encouraged that the governor has directed his budget director to ‘review and explore a revenue sharing formula that would provide Madison County with an appropriate portion of the revenue generated from such gaming devices,’” they said.

“In this regard, we look forward to continuing to work with the Madison County Board of Supervisors and the governor’s office to bring about a long-term solution that best serves Madison County residents.”

The additional payments would not have detracted from Oneida County’s revenue, Madison County officials said, because Madison County is seeking more money from the state’s share. Oneida County receives 25 percent of the state’s slot machine payment and an annual $2.5 million payment to settle past tax claims.

“Sadly, in recent weeks it’s become clear that too many decisions made in Albany are not based on the merits,” Becker said. “We aren’t looking for a billion; we are just looking for our fair share.”

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