Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped up his criticism of local governments today, saying that they need to do more to limit property taxes in New York.
Local governments and Cuomo have been battling since he took office in 2011 over his need to lower unfunded state mandates versus municipalities’ need to lower spending.
A tax commission formed by Cuomo recommended today that New Yorkers would have a two-year property-tax freeze if their schools and local governments stay within the property-tax cap limit of about 2 percent. In year two, the freeze would be in place if local governments also seek to consolidate services.
“There’s no pressure on governments to come up with these efficiencies, and what this commission is saying that there is an incentive or a pressure,” Cuomo told reporters after the commission’s report was released on Long Island.
Cuomo called it “a heck of an incentive.”
This year, 98 percent of schools and 77 percent of local governments stayed under the 2 percent property-tax cap. For 2014, the tax cap is set at 1.6 percent, based on the current rate of inflation.
Local governments and schools have criticized the property-tax cap since it took effect in 2011, and the state teacher’s union is suing to have it overturned.
The tax cap can be overrode with 60 percent of a vote of a governing board, or for schools it’s 60 percent of the public vote in May.
“Over the next two years, assuming that governments stay within that cap, they are not going to see an increase in any of their property taxes,” said former Gov. George Pataki, who co-chaired the commission.
Former state Comptroller Carl McCall said local governments and schools need to do more to control costs. McCall has been criticized for cutting pension contributions to zero for local governments in advance of his gubernatorial run in 2002 — a move that contributed to skyrocketing pension costs in recent years for schools and municipalities.
“All of the various levels of government have to find ways of working together, sharing services and finding ways of reducing the kind of burden that has been imposed on our citizens,” McCall said.