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Local Leaders Against Cuomo’s Tax Freeze Plan

Written By: Tanja Rekhi
Local Leaders Against Cuomo’s Tax Freeze Plan

TOMPKINS COUNTY (WENY) -- Governor Cuomo has a new plan to cut property taxes, but local leaders say it could leave municipalities, schools and community programs scrambling for money.
     Local leaders say Governor Cuomo's plan is misguided. They think if he cuts state mandates like Medicaid and welfare programs from local municipalities and covers the cost instead, that would work a lot better.
     Local leaders say those unfunded mandates are racking up their bill.
     "I think the part that is so enraging is that the Governor is sort of shaking his finger at local municipalities, saying we're not doing a good enough job and we are trying our darnest," said Liz Thomas, Ulysses Town Supervisor.
     If the state picked up the cost of the largest unfunded mandates in Tompkins County, taxes would go down nearly $26 Million or more than $600 for the average homeowner.
     Local leaders agree: something needs to be done to lower property taxes; however, they don't feel the Governor's plan is the solution.
      The Governor wants counties to consolidate services like-- trash removal and road plowing. In Schuyler County, like many counties in the Southern Tier, they've been consolidating services. County Administrator Tim O'Hearn says they've gone as far as having conversations about a merger with Yates County.
     "We're at a point where we're 80 percent higher than the rest of the country," said O'Hearn. "We need to lower taxes, not freeze them."
     If local government consolidate those services and freeze property taxes for two years home owners reap the benefits. They will be eligible for tax credits.
"We've been able to calculate it in Tompkins County, based on what we did last year," said Michael Lane, Chair Tompkins Co. Legislature. "So we were able to say if the Governor's plan was in place last year and based on the budget, our tax payers would have seen a check for $7.57."