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Raise the Age projected to cost Monroe County $20M to start

Annual costs estimated at $13 million

By: Bennett Loudon//April 25, 2017

Raise the Age projected to cost Monroe County $20M to start

Annual costs estimated at $13 million

By: Bennett Loudon//April 25, 2017//

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The Raise the Age legislation adopted as part of the new state budget could cost Monroe County more than $20 million to get off the ground and $13 million annually after it’s implemented next year.

The startup cost includes $7.5 million to build a new secure detention facility to house inmates who are now held in the Monroe County Jail.

Projected annual expenses include: $2.5 million for operation of the new detention center; $6.25 million for family and individual support services; $256,625 for five new residential services caseworkers; $2.5 million in adding costs in the county probation department; and $330,000 in added costs at the Sheriff’s Office.

County spokesman Brett Walsh said the state is expected to fully reimburse the county.

“The legislation says it’s their responsibility to pay for anything that’s related to the implementation of Raise the Age,” Walsh said.

“It’s our expectation that they will. How that is, we don’t have any clarity on.”

Beyond capacity

Statewide, county officials are in the process of analyzing the impact of the legislation that will move most cases involving 16- and 17-year-olds out of adult courts and into Family Court.

Stephen J. Acquario
Stephen J. Acquario

Stephen J. Acquario, executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, said the changes will cost counties hundreds of millions of dollars, but he’s not convinced that state reimbursement is a sure thing.

“The state needs to provide guidance on that issue. We don’t know. They say that there will be some reimbursement provided, not full reimbursement,” Acquario said.

Implementation of Raise the Age will bring a variety of counseling and support services to young people and their families that were not always part of the resolution of cases in adult court. And those services, which will be provided through the county government, are very expensive, Acquario said.

“We will have to then seek reimbursement, and should the state fail to reimburse in a timely manner, that could put many counties well over their property tax cap and cause chaos in different parts of the state,” Acquario said.

Acquario said counties need guidance from the governor’s office and the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

“It could be largely beyond the capacity of the local taxpayers to fund and administer a whole new system here with or without a property tax cap,” Acquario said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

On the same page


State Supreme Court Justice Craig J. Doran, administrative judge of the Seventh Judicial District, is gearing up for implementation of Raise the Age by creating a task force led by Monroe County Family Court Judge John B. Gallagher and made up of judges, court staff and representatives from numerous county government and human service agencies.

“This will be an all-hands-on-deck effort and the mission will be to make sure that we’re all on the same page as we implement this,” Doran said.

The changes will be costly to counties in many areas. For example, cases that used to be prosecuted by the District Attorney will now be handled by the County Attorney’s Office, which might require additional staff as a result. And there will be changes in where young people will be placed if they cannot stay at home.

“They won’t go to jail; they’ll go to a placement as they would in Family Court,” Doran said.

The task force will include representatives of the District Attorney’s offices, social services, public defenders, the Legal Aid Society, the state’s Attorney for Children program and county attorneys.

“We need to have all these folks at the table as we talk about implementation and how we’re going to, logistically, shift the caseloads from one court to another and how we can most appropriately do that in a way that accomplishes the objectives of the legislation,” Doran said.

More serious violent felonies involving a 16- or 17-year-old will stay in adult criminal court, but less serious, non-violent felonies could be moved to Family Court.

Under the new legislation, misdemeanor cases involving 16- and 17-year-olds that are now handled by town and village courts will now go to Family Court. The state does not fund the town and village courts.

“The processing of those cases is not a budgetary issue for the New York state court system. It will become a budgetary issue for the New York state court system when we move those misdemeanor cases for 16- and 17-year-olds from the town and village courts to the Family Courts,” Doran said.

But details of how much that will cost and whether the funding has been allocated is not clear.

“We’re drilling into the courts budget to ascertain the answer to that question,” Doran said.

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