Director of NYSAC, the statewide association of counties, says mandate reform is what's most needed

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in the Rochester area March 1, calling for a permanent cap on local property tax increases.

He spoke at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester to launch the Tax Fairness for the Middle Class Campaign. It would eliminate the need to periodically extend the cap. It’s set at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

Local governments can override the cap, but only by a special vote by local officials.

Cuomo unveiled a digital tax calculator at https://on.ny.gov/2H6sMwd to show estimates of how much taxpayers have saved under the property tax cap and will continue to save over the next 10 years with a permanent property tax cap.

In a response to Cuomo’s renewed call for the permanent cap, New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario issued a statement Friday, which reads:

“The Governor’s continued focus on making the property tax cap permanent is important for the long term viability of the state, but it must come with significant state actions that reduce their reliance on property taxes to fund state-level decisions made in Albany.

“County government elected officials have long supported lowering property taxes — not just slowing the growth. The fact is that the state now owns any increases in local property taxes, as these increases are not caused by the actions at the local level. In fact, the 2019/20 state budget, if enacted as proposed, would likely impose nearly $200 million in new mandates on counties. Proposals such as mandating counties make AIM payments to towns and villages that were eliminated by the state, increased costs for implementing early voting, forcing new criminal justice monitoring through bail reform, elimination of funding for youth in need of supervision and authority for the Governor to cut local assistance by up to three percent if revenues fall short of estimates, which they have in recent years. These actions, and other legacy actions of the state, will force local governments to spend more local taxes, thus preventing lower property taxes.

“State mandates on local government have inhibited local ingenuity and innovation, and the continued underinvestment into local needs will have long term consequences. To have vibrant communities and lower property taxes, the state must take more fiscal responsibility for state laws, policies, and programs.”