With Local Officials, Cuomo Pitches His Property Tax Plan
Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to push the needle forward on Monday for his plan to freeze local property tax increases but pressuring municipal governments to cap property taxes and then slash spending.
Cuomo was joined by local elected officials from around the state, including Democratic Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano, at a Red Room news conference in the Capitol to make a renewed push for the proposal, which state lawmakers have balked at.
The governor acknowledged he is fighting a two-front war, not just with the Senate and Assembly, but also with some local leaders who oppose the plan.
To that end, he released a list of 150 endorsers of the freeze proposal.
“No, this is not easy, with the Legislature,” Cuomo said. “There are not a lot of easy with the Legislature, I might add.”
He added, “If this was easy getting local governments to cooperate, this would have been done 20 years ago.”
Cuomo again has pegged the cost of property taxes on the proliferation of local governments and special taxing districts.
“The point is to recognize the problem: We have too many governments,” Cuomo said. “We really do. Point two, is to get them to work together in a way they haven’t done thus far.”
Cuomo insisted the proposal is about finding ways to make the local governments more efficient by sharing services.
“Forget just the special districts, there are just a lot of levels of all these districts,” he said.
Compounding the effort, Cuomo’s re-election campaign released a third TV ad in support of the proposal, just before the news conference at the Capitol got underway.
The state Senate’s one-house budget modified Cuomo’s proposal to essentially put less pressure on local elected officials.
The Democratic-led Assembly, meanwhile, jettisoned the idea entirely, but kept a circuit-breaker mechanism.
Still, during a question-and-answering session with reporters, the local elected officials fell silent when asked if there was a special district they would eliminate or had tried to eliminate in order to save money.
Colonie town Supervisor Paula Mahan acknowledged the cost driver wasn’t necessarily the governments or the districts themselves, but the services.
“If you eliminate any logically, you have to pay for the water system — the sewer system.,” Mahan said. “You have to be able to collect a fee some way for the usage which goes back in to their budget. Their operating budget. One way or the other you have to provide that service and that service is costly. Whether you do if through the property tax or the district fee, it’s the same thing. Residents have to be able to pay for that service.”
Cuomo circled back to the topic, noting the effort wasn’t about shedding the state of the districts themselves, but cutting waste.
“That’s not the question we’re proposing,” he said. “We’re not saying eliminate entities. It’s shared services. It’s cooperation. You have silos and fiefdoms in local governments. We’re saying shouldn’t there be a crosscut to find functional efficiencies.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on March 17, 2014 at 3:26 pm, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|