Newsday is reporting that 34 of the 234 municipalities which have reported their budgets to the state Comptroller’s Office have voted to override the new state property tax cap. Thousands more have yet to report to the comptroller; some of them, including St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, have taken the preliminary steps of a public hearing and a local law that will allow an override if and when local officials decide they can’t live within the 2 percent limit on increases.
The New York Times is also reporting local pushback on the tax cap today.
The communities, which include affluent New York City suburbs and rural communities near the border with Canada, are declaring that they cannot restrain the growth of property taxes and still comply with a variety of state-mandated programs and provide the services residents expect.
The Times quotes Gregory J. Edwards, the county executive of Chautauqua County. He’s a Republican who ran for lieutenant governor last year. In a letter to residents this month he called the cap a political “scam.”
“The 2 percent property-tax cap is nothing more than a campaign slogan meant to get them re-elected and give local leaders the pain for their failure to act,” Mr. Edwards wrote in his letter, referring to Albany lawmakers.
According to the Times, Edwards has proposed a tax increase of nearly 13 percent for Chautauqua County, which he says is entirely attributable to increases in state-mandated costs.
Each passing day seems to bring a new act of legislative rebellion. In just one week this month, on Monday, the Town Board in Hammond, in the Thousand Islands region, voted to override the cap; on Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors in Seneca County introduced a measure to do the same thing; on Wednesday, town officials in Massena, in St. Lawrence County, passed their own override; and on Thursday, the Town Board in Harrietstown, in the Adirondacks, followed suit.
And from Cuomo:
But Mr. Cuomo is now emphasizing the cap’s symbolic value, saying “this mentality of automatic pilot, where the property taxes just keep going up 5, 6, 7 percent every year,” will no longer be tolerated by New Yorkers. Indeed, in some communities, residents have chastised their local officials for not sufficiently embracing his push to keep taxes down.
“What you’re seeing this year, which you didn’t see in years past: there is much more attention and discussion about the increases in the property tax,” Mr. Cuomo said. “That is a great accomplishment and a great positive.”
What do you think?