For Schoharie particularly, and for a number of other counties as well, the severe flooding that struck parts of the region in 2011 has brought lingering consequences. Scores of homes in the village of Schoharie were ruined, and numerous families have not returned to the community, causing some local businesses to shed employees.
“There just aren’t the number of folks around anymore to go shopping in the local stores,” said Dan Ross, a lawyer who has had an office in Middleburgh for more than 30 years.
The history of flooding has given some prospective home buyers pause about purchasing real estate in some towns, Ross said.
“People are definitely skittish about buying anything that isn’t up on a hill or elevated,” he said.
Even before the flood, though, Schoharie County has had a hard time attracting people, acknowledged the chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, Phil Skowfoe of Fulton.
“The issues are the high taxes and the unfunded mandates from Albany,” Skowfoe said. “I think this state is driving the people out.”
Skowfoe, a Democrat, didn’t mince words when he detailed his concerns with the most recent proposed state budget from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, also a Democrat.
“Their idea of mandate relief was smoke and mirrors,” Skowfoe said, noting the county is required to provide expensive mandated public programs by Albany without the funding to administer them.
“If you don’t have jobs and you don’t have reasonable taxes, it’s hard to entice anyone to come here or to convince your children to stay here,” Skowfoe said.
State Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said the new census data should prompt Albany policymakers to step up their efforts to create economic incentives that will convince businesses to expand into New York and provide more jobs.
“These numbers really underscore the need for significant new economic development and job creation initiatives,” Seward said. “We have to get more aggressive.”