Governor Andrew Cuomo has enlisted the support of 175 local government officials to convince the State Legislature to approve his proposed property tax freeze.
On Tuesday, the Governor travelled to Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica to say the state's high property taxes are hurting the economy and driving people out of New York State.
" W e want to reverse a lot of these trends. We want people to move back to upstate New York. We have to tackle this problem." Cuomo told an audience of about two hundred people.
H ere's how the tax freeze would work. If you live in a municipality that caps property tax increases at or below 2 percent, the Governor will dip into a $1 billion state surplus and send you, as an individual property taxpayer, a rebate check for an amount to be determined. Cuomo will use the tax freeze to convince local governments to shrink and share services.
A mong those siding with the Governor is Oneida County Executive, Anthony Picente. He told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "Look, here in Oneida County, (there are) 26 towns, 19 villages, 3 cities, 16 school districts. It just can't continue that way. You can't sustain an economy that way and you can't grow an economy when you have that many taxing jurisdictions."
Bu t more than one hundred other local government officials have signed a letter opposing the property tax freeze. The letter claims a tax freeze "will only exacerbate the problems we face on a daily basis." Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner signed the letter, but was not available for comment Tuesday.
When asked about Miner's opposition, Cuomo replied, " I understand it's difficult for government to tighten its belt. I get it. I understand it's uncomfortable. Change is hard and the status quo is easy, but it hasn't been easy for families across the state to tighten their belt either. The answer can't always be more money, more money, more money."
T he tax freeze is playing a major role in state budget negotiations underway in Albany.