Monday, October 3, 2011


Local leaders consider ramifications of state tax cap
(Copyright © 2011 Mid-Hudson News Network, a division of Statewide News Network, Inc)

NEW PALTZ – As governments, municipal, state, county and school districts, look ahead to 2012, they facing a cap on property tax levies, and that presents problem on how governments functions.

“We’re faced with a huge problem, and we’re at the intersection of it right now,” said Elliot Auerbach, Ulster County comptroller.

Auerbach attended the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress’ Fall Conference on Local Governments Monday at SUNY New Paltz, and he said local governments will have to look at efficiencies first as it tries to look at the continued limiting of revenues.

“It has forced government to look inside, to become more efficient and how best they spend their limited dollars,” said Auerbach.

Tom Suozzi, the former Nassau County executive who chaired the state’s Property Tax Relief commission in 2008, which helped in developing the current tax cap proposal, talked about state mandates that pass certain financial responsibilities for programs, like Medicare, down to the county level.

“And that’s been left off the table,” said Auerbach. “That’s really the crux of the problem here.”

State mandates have always been grappling points for local lawmakers. But as they try to overcome that obstacle, services will still need to be provided, and Auerbach said consolidations and shared services may be solutions in making to help government work in the near future.
“I think that’s going to become the buzz word(s) for 2012,” he said.

Jonathan Drapkin, president of the Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress, said we are living during an historic time when tough choices have to be made for the immediate and long-term futures.

“It’s going to be one of those periods 10 or 15 years from now and we’ll say, ‘That was one tough period’,” he said. “I think we have to come to grip that very difficult decisions have to be made.”

And with those austere measures ahead, governments will need to find a way to fund services as property taxpayers demand an end to yearly hikes.

“It creates the window where you can plan,” he said. “The public has made it very cleared to us that they won’t accept endless increases in taxes.”