County Execs Decry Cuomo Property Tax Plan
From the Morning Memo:
Two Republican county executives who have their eye on running statewide next year blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest proposal to control property taxes in the state, unveiled Tuesday in his State of the State address given in Westchester and on Long Island.
Cuomo proposed a plan that appears similar to the one underway in Onondaga County, led by his Republican ally, County Executive Joanie Mahoney.
In short, the plan would place the onus on county executives to work with local governments on ways of saving money, sharing serves and consolidating government functions.
The proposal would be placed before voters in a referendum.
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who was at SUNY Purchase for Cuomo’s unveiling of the plan, knocked Cuomo’s claims the state has little to do with local property tax costs.
There was a lot of talk in the last election about fake news, and what we heard in today’s lecture from Governor Cuomo was clearly little more than a slick propaganda effort designed to mislead voters on what really accounts for high local property taxes,” Molinaro said.
Both Molinaro and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino blamed mandated spending as required by Albany for the squeeze on their budgets.
In his statement, Astorino called the speech by Cuomo “shameless.”
“At today’s political rally masquerading as a State of the State address in Westchester — potential Democratic candidates for county executive were invited, but not the actual county executive,” he said.
“In his ‘speech,’ Mr. Cuomo blatantly suggested that my administration is responsible for state-driven property tax hikes. I would remind the governor that I have never once raised the County tax levy — not for seven straight years — while Mr. Cuomo’s state mandates have ravaged County, municipal and school budgets. Mr. Cuomo’s state mandates consume almost all of what the County collects in property taxes, leaving us with very little to actually run county government.”
Cuomo has over the years repeatedly made efforts to curtail property taxes a theme of his administration’s policy for suburban and upstate counties, capping property tax levies at the rate of inflation, which has routinely been under 2 percent.
But local governments have complained the cap was never coupled with enough mandate relief or an increase in state aid, which has been frozen over the last half decade.
Cuomo’s office pointed to a major mandate initiative — the effort to control the cost of Medicaid — as a capstone of mandate relief.
“Thanks to Governor Cuomo, the State has eliminated growth in the local share of Medicaid, which will save counties $3.7 billion over five years,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. “Regardless, this shouldn’t be an excuse to prevent local governments from coming together and developing a plan to ease the property tax burden by cutting costs — something both the state and the taxpayer have done for quite some time.”
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