News Details - Legislators Express Ongoing Concern About Impending Property Tax Cap
Calling this “a critical time for counties,” Legislature Chair Martha Robertson told her colleagues that representatives of the State’s 62 counties attending last week’s conference of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) were united in their concern about the property tax cap proposed by the Governor and approved by the State Senate—legislation that fails to provide any relief from the mandates counties face. Robertson maintained it is time for the State to take responsibility for its own decisions, instead of shifting more and more of the cost to the property tax. “We are very concerned,” said Robertson, “and everything we heard at NYSAC made us even more concerned.”
County Administrator Joe Mareane said that the message that the County has been sending to officials in Albany is that, by capping property taxes without mandate relief and being unwilling to consider “home rule” revenue requests such as the County’s request to increase the Mortgage Recording Tax, the State will prevent counties from continuing the balanced approach they use to cope with increased costs. “There must be a concerted discussion on real mandate relief,” he said, related to the bills counties are “sent every year and directed to pay.”
Predicting that this year’s budget landscape will be very different, Legislator Brian Robison urged that the Legislature seek input from constituents, since it will be important for legislators to determine spending priorities. Legislator Will Burbank agreed that the community must pay attention a lot earlier than budget season, since the Legislature will have to make “some very tough decisions” that could impact programs. Legislator Dooley Kiefer said that it’s residents legislators must be worried about, and the services people want. Robertson noted that suggestions being advanced to address the tax cap will take time to implement and that mandates need to be changed before the cap is in place—a cap that excludes pension costs, for example, she said, would help “in real time,” as mandates are being reformed. Both Robertson and Legislator Nathan Shinagawa urged support for the so called “millionaire’s tax;” Legislator Frank Proto urged that all the taxing districts in Tompkins County begin to collaborate now, to seek common ground to come up with a long-term solution, which Legislator Leslyn McBean-Clairborne added must include a common view of what level of tax increases all entities can collectively live with. Through advocacy, collaboration, and education, Legislator Kathy Luz Herrera expressed confidence that the Legislature will be able to meet this difficult challenge.
Written information presented to Legislators also provided additional detail on expected budget impacts on the County should the Governor’s budget be adopted. The outline of Administrator Mareane’s presentation on 2011 State Budget and Legislative Issues may be reviewed online at www.tompkins-co.org/ctyadmin/Budget/documents/Statebgtimpactpres2-11.pdf.