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Federal mandates impact the costs of many county functions and may emanate from statutory law or from federal agency rule making. With environmental issues, counties are often regulators, implementers of regulations and regulated themselves. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations are cited the most often as a federal mandate burden for counties by the state associations of counties and other officials interviewed. EPA clean water and air requirements affect local land use decisions and even post- disaster recovery efforts. A primary example is the use by the EPA of the Clean Water Act to issue storm water regulations impacting counties across the country. Further, EPA regulations affected negatively local economies relying heavily on mining, such as those in N.M. Regulations on federal lands are a major concern for counties in the West, but also counties in Miss. Land use regulations can diminish the revenue generating usages of public lands. For example, recently amended Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land use plans have excluded 2.8 million acres in three Nev. counties from future mineral extraction.


State mandates prove troublesome as well. According to the interviews with the state associations of counties and other state and county officials, nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of states are requiring counties to do more with what they have, decreasing state funding to counties or a combination of both. Over the past decade, counties in more than half of all states are experiencing a greater proliferation of mandates from states. Nearly half (45 percent) of state associations of counties reported counties receiving reduced state funding and facing more state mandates over the past ten years. (See Map 6).


MAP 6.


STATE MANDATES AND FUNDING FOR COUNTIES AS OF NOVEMBER 2016


Decreased Mandates AND Increased Funding


Decreased Mandates OR Increased Funding


No Change (or Increases/ Decreases in Both)


Increased Mandates OR Decreased Funding


Increased Mandates AND Decreased Funding


Note: Conn., R.I., and parts of Mass. have counties or county-equivalents with no county governments (marked in grey on the map). There was no data available for Massachusetts and Vermont.


Source: NACo interviews with state associations of counties and state and county officials in each of the 48 states with county governments, research of state statutes, tax codes and local government finance literature.


14 66


NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of COUNTIES | NOVEMBER 2016 COUNTY LINES, SPRING 2017


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