As the debate over the merits of a property-tax cap rages on, local government and school district leaders have long been nearly unified in their call for the state to relieve mandated costs, which they say eat up a significant portion of their tax levy.
Now, with a framework tax-cap agreement in place, those officials say the need for mandate relief has never been more urgent.
The agreement between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders, if passed by the Legislature, would cap property-tax levy increases at 2 percent annually, with minor carve outs for some pension costs and growth allowances.
“I think everybody agrees that a property-tax cap is a good start,” said Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks. “But if we pass a cap without mandate reform, there will be some unintended consequences that could hurt quality of life in communities, with Medicaid at the top of the list.”
Cuomo made the tax cap a main priority of his gubernatorial campaign and his first five months in office, but has also stressed the need for mandate relief.
Still, though, a Cuomo spokesman said there are things local governing bodies can do to cut costs as they wait for the state to act. Cuomo has been a big proponent of consolidation and reducing inefficiencies at both the state and local level.
“The governor is absolutely committed to mandate relief and looks forward to continuing to work with his mandate relief team and his partners in the Legislature in order to achieve that goal,” said Josh Vlasto, the spokesman. “At the same time, there is a whole menu of options that counties, local governments and school districts can look to for ways to reduce their costs right away and on their own.”
For more perspective and thoughts from lawmakers and other county leaders, see the Gannett Albany Bureau’s weekend story here.