The below content was excerpted from a press release sent out by Assemblyman Latimer's office.
"There's a lot of rhetoric going on out there about mandate relief for local governments; it's time to separate the snake-oil from the real solutions." So states Assemblyman Latimer (D-Westchester), who is sponsoring and supporting three key bills that represents the most practical way to reduce State mandated costs on local governments—and thereby relieve local property taxpayers of higher property taxes.
The three bills were all introduced in the 2011-12 Legislative session in Albany. They are:
Medicaid Costs for Counties (A.8644 Paulin)
This would phase out the county share of Medicaid costs over a multi-year period, and would require a reduction in county taxes commensurate to the savings. Latimer points out that in 2011, Westchester County collected a total of $548 million in property taxes, and shelled out $211 million to the state to cover its share of Medicaid costs. A full reduction in this area would mean a 40 percent decrease in county taxes if fully applied to reduce taxes. Latimer is a co-sponsor of this bill.
Cap Local Government Pension Costs (A.8505 Abinanti)
Since the state capped local property taxes increased at 2 percent per year in 2011, then it must also cap—and fund the difference—of pension costs which cannot be locally controlled by the municipal government, school district or special district (library, fire etc.) at 2 percent. The rising rate of pension costs, beyond the control of any local government, swallows up more tax dollars each year.
"Only when the state faces the crisis itself will solutions be found; putting the costs of pension at the state level ensures the state will take pension costs funding seriously," Latimer argued. He is a co-sponsor of the bill.
Eliminate MTA Payroll Tax (A.5616 Latimer)
The MTA Payroll Tax is an added cost to local governments that forces up property taxes; in the City of Yonkers, it approached $700,000 per year. Mass transit must be funded at the state and federal levels directly, without relying on additional mandates to local governments that turn into property tax increases. Latimer's sponsors two bills—one an immediate elimination, the other a phased elimination—which would eliminate the charge of this tax on local governments, among others. In late 2011, Latimer and the Legislature voted to eliminate this tax for over 25,000 Westchester small businesses and public and private schools
"These three actions will address the core problem of mandates in New York State: that our state, unlike most others, requires costs to be borne by those local governments that rely primarily on property taxes to survive. That is THE single biggest reason why Westchester County and other counties rate high on the list of taxed counties," said Latimer.
"Beware of well dressed salesmen who are selling you a false bill of goods. Mandate relief does not come with partisan platitudes—it comes with very specific prescriptions to right-size government. And don't buy the political argument that one party is to blame and the other is blameless. Albany has worked for years with BOTH parties equally responsible for the decisions that led us to this point. It is cynical political manipulation, fueled by big money, that tries to convince you otherwise," he concluded.
Assemblyman George Latimer of Rye represents Larchmont, Mamaroneck Town and Village, Rye City, Port Chester, Rye Brook and part of New Rochelle.