Local supervisors: Cuomo's tax freeze not realistic

By Jillian Marshall

January 24, 2014 Updated Jan 24, 2014 at 7:33 PM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed freezing property taxes for the next two years during his 2014-15 budget presentation last week.

But some local government leaders say his offer may not be realistic for the Southern Tier.

Two local town supervisors said the governor's proposal is smoke and mirrors; though it sounds like a good plan, it's not a reality for some towns in the Southern Tier.

The Democrat's idea to maintain property taxes at current levels is proposed to last two years.

The first year, Cuomo said the state would provide tax rebates to households who make less less than $500,000 per year. To qualify, they would have to live in a municipality that sticks to the 2 percent cap on property tax levy increases.

But supervisors say the governor's second year proposal includes a catch: School districts and municipalities must not only stay under the cap, they must show they're taking real steps with their neighbors to eliminate overlapping services or consolidate.

Leaders said his plan looks good on paper, but they aren't confident it will benefit their towns or the Southern Tier.

"It's not realistic. It's extremely short term," said town of Binghamton Supervisor Tim Whitesell. "It doesn't serve anybody any benefit. Either through sharing of services or reducing taxes, it's a counter productive action. It lessens services and costs more money."

"The best thing the governor could do for this area, and you're probably not going to like to hear this, but is give us mandate relief. All the mandates the state comes up with, the towns, the cities, it's hard to keep up," said town of Conklin Supervisor Jim Finch.

Cuomo said this freeze will generate an average tax benefit of $350 for close to 9 million taxpayers in New York.

The executive budget will now be debated by the state legislature. The legislature and governor must come to an agreement by April 1.

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