Legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are moving toward agreement on a two-year property-tax freeze that could require local governments to find ways to share services so homeowners are eligible for a tax rebate check in the fall.
“I think we can address some of it,” Silver said of issues raised by local officials. “Giving them credit for things they’ve already done and giving them targets, not hard numbers, having plans.”
Cuomo has pushed hard for the tax freeze as a way to get local governments and schools to share services and thus cut costs that would lead to lower taxes.
“I want the local governments to do the hard thing,” Cuomo said Tuesday in Syracuse. “The hard thing is to find economies of scale, find what they call shared services. You have hundreds of governments in one county. Put everybody in a room, find how you can work together, how you can tighten your belt.”
Cuomo has said he is amenable to the idea, first proposed by Senate Republicans, to allow local governments and schools who have shared services in recent years to qualify for the tax rebate, which would on average be about $350 a year.
“If their position is, ‘Well I’ve already been cooperating and actually I’ve done everything I can in terms of cooperation,’ then great,” Cuomo told reporters last week. “That’s where we’re trying to get, anyway.”
Under Cuomo’s plan, local officials would need to keep their budgets under the property-tax cap and in year two develop a plan to share services and lower the tax levy by at least 1 percent. The plan would cost about $1 billion a year.
Silver suggested that the sides may agree to “targets” rather than specific numbers that local governments would need to hit to be eligible for the rebates.
“I support property-tax relief across the state,” Silver said.
Unions have also pushed against the plan. The New York State United Teachers is spending $1.5 million on an ad blitz in opposition to the tax freeze, calling it a “devastating plan that squanders hundreds of millions of dollars for tax breaks for the wealthy while denying students the programs and services they need.”