A new proposal from Albany could reduce New York property taxes, but the plan comes with strings attached.
This April, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing ahead with his controversial consolidation plan, which would require counties and municipalities to work alongside each other to create cost-cutting plans.
According to Syracuse.com, Gov. Cuomo is encouraging local governments across New York to cut costs by sharing and consolidating public services. His proposal would empower county executives to convene local leaders to devise plans that could be shared with voters at public hearings. To save money, Cuomo hopes New York’s counties and cities will consolidate local services, with the ultimate goal of sharing and reducing overall costs.
“This is like a Marx Brothers movie,” said one official who lobbied on the proposal. “It’s very cumbersome.”
Gov. Cuomo has dropped some of the more controversial aspects of the plan. For instance, an earlier version of the proposal would have required the county plans to go before voters in November. Furthermore, Gov. Cuomo had threatened to hold out $715 million in state aid to localities until the measure passed. The $715 million provides direct aid to cities and towns throughout the state.
In the most recent version of the cost-sharing agreement, both of these controversial ideas had been dropped.
Some local services are already centralized. For instance, 75% of homes in the U.S. are serviced by centralized wastewater collection and treatment systems. That means all of the wastewater within certain areas is collected and treated by the same plant.
Cuomo hopes other local services follow this model, so that counties do not have multiple public agencies performing the same services.
“This initiative asks local governments to seek efficiencies and put a plan before their voters that helps lower property taxes, said Morris Peters, a budget spokesperson for Cuomo.
Syracuse is already pursuing its own consolidation plan. According to Syracuse.com, the city is considering “a plan that would, if fully implemented, create a single metropolitan government across Onondaga County,” which supporters believe could save $33 million in five years.
According to The Journal News, the plan continues to face criticism despite the Governor’s concessions to local leaders.
“This shouldn’t be controversial in any way,” Peters said. “The bill language simply assures that the voice of the voters is heard.”