February 16, 2017
Albany, NY

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Western New York Local Leaders Endorse Governor Cuomo's Proposal to Empower Voters to Reduce Property Taxes and Cost of Local Government

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Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Western New York local leaders today endorsed Governor Cuomo's plan to reduce property taxes by empowering voters to approve locally-designed plans that deliver shared, coordinated services and lower the cost of local government. The Governor’s groundbreaking proposal would require county executives to convene local government to meetings to develop shared service plans that reduce duplicative spending and find real, recurring property tax savings.
 
"Property taxes impose a severe burden on home- and business-owners in Western New York, and by challenging local governments to work together to streamline services and lower taxes, this groundbreaking initiative will improve efficiency and empower voters in Western New York and across the state," Governor Cuomo said. "I look forward to partnering with these Western New York leaders to develop innovative plans that will deliver real savings and relief to New York taxpayers."

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The Governor’s proposal empowers municipalities to develop plans that eliminate duplicative services, lower the costs of local governments, and ease the burden on taxpayers. Plans should enhance purchasing power, such as jointly purchasing and coordinating the use of expensive transportation or emergency equipment. The Governor has also committed to match savings achieved by local governments in the first year. These shared service plans will not impact AIM funding included in the FY 2018 Executive Budget for towns, villages and cities.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "I commend Governor Cuomo for his efforts to reduce the size of government and I am pleased to support the proposal the Governor described in Erie County today.  Since I was Erie County's Comptroller I have identified numerous initiatives to reduce the cost of government in our community.  Some of those initiatives have been implemented, others have not because I do not have the power to do so alone.  While the majority of local property taxes are a result of school taxes, I know the county, working with the 3 cities, 25 towns and 16 villages, can find additional ways to streamline government through the sharing and consolidation of services, which will in turn reduce our constituents' tax burden." 

The following Western New York local leaders have endorsed the Governor's bold proposal to reduce property taxes and the cost of local government.
 

  • Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz
  • Thomas Loughran, Minority Leader, Erie County Legislature
  • Pat Burke, Erie County Legislator
  • Peter Savage, Erie County Legislator
  • Town Supervisor Johanna Coleman, Town of Lancaster
  • Town Supervisor Barry Weinstein, Town of Amherst
  • Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray, Town of Grand Island
  • Town Supervisor Sheila Meegan, Town of West Seneca
  • Town Supervisor Diane Benczkowski, Town of Cheektowaga
  • Mayor Rick Davis, City of Tonawanda
  • Mayor Geoff Szymanski of Lackawanna
  • Mayor Thomas Moses of Hamburg
  • Mayor William Aiello of Olean
  • Mayor Brian Kulpa of Williamsville
  • Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder
  • Joel Feroleto, Buffalo Common Council 
  • David Rivera, Buffalo Common Council 
  • Rasheed Wyatt, Buffalo Common Council

Plans will be developed by county executives working together with local government:

  • County executive convenes one or more meetings to obtain suggestions and hear comments on county shared service plan.
  • Cities, towns and villages must provide plans to the counties.
  • County executive submits his or her shared services plan to the legislature for comments.
  • County executive shared services plan is then submitted to voters for their action in a referendum at the general election in November of 2017. 
  • If the plan is rejected, the county executive would prepare a new plan for submission to the electorate for a second vote in November of 2018. 


Reducing New York’s burdensome property taxes has been a priority of Governor Cuomo and his administration, leading to actions such as the Property Tax Cap and Property Tax Freeze, saving taxpayers more than $17 billion through 2016.

Mandate Relief for New York Municipalities

Since 2011, Governor Cuomo has held state spending growth below 1.4 percent, the lowest spending of any Governor since before Nelson Rockefeller. Outstanding debt has also been lowered for the past four years, and the Governor has continued to provide significant mandate relief for counties, towns, villages and cities across the state. These efforts include:

  • Saving local governments $3.2 billion in 2018 by capping the cost of Medicaid growth;
  • Reforming the state’s pension system to save the State and local governments more than $80 billion over the next 30 years
  • Requiring arbitration panels consider a municipality's ability to pay certain local contracts
  • Authorizing local shared services, like allowing up to three school districts with fewer than 1,000 students each to share a school superintendent; and
  • Providing local governments with expanded procurement options, such as the authority to "piggyback" on Federal General Services Administration contracts and county public works contracts as a way to reduce costs for local governments.

 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Western New York Local Leaders Endorse Governor Cuomo's Proposal to Empower Voters to Reduce Property Taxes and Cost of Local Government

Amherst Town Supervisor Barry Weinstein said, “Property taxes are one of the greatest burdens afflicting middle class New Yorkers, and Governor Cuomo has put forward a groundbreaking solution to streamline government services.  This plan will challenge local governments to find ways to make government more efficient.  I have been assured that AIM funding will not be jeopardized.  I applaud Governor Cuomo for his creativity in trying to control property taxes.”
 
Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray, Town of Grand Island, said, “In Erie County, local governments have taken substantial steps to lower costs and ease the burden of property taxes on our residents. But by putting our heads together and throwing out our best ideas, we can do more to find inefficiencies and seize opportunities to share services. The Governor’s proposal will create an open dialogue and empower local officials to identify new ways to coordinate services, enhance purchasing power, and reduce redundancies across our governments so that we can lower property taxes for New Yorkers who need it most.”
 
Mayor Brian Kulpa of Williamsville said, "As the Mayor of Williamsville, my duty is to strike a balance between fiscal responsibility and undertaking value-add projects that make our Village a great place to live, work, and play. I know I can speak for many of my fellow local government leaders when I say we are already seeking efficiencies to reduce costs, and I was glad to learn that the Governor has made this a primacy. The Governor’s strategy to identify efficiencies in order to reduce property taxes will have a positive impact on our local economies. I look forward to working with my colleagues in Erie County to support this state-wide effort."
 
Mayor William J. Aiello, City of Olean, said, “The City of Olean is always interested in working with other taxing authorities to reduce the property tax burden of our residents.  The City has frequently shared services with the County, the Olean City School District and many of the towns and villages that surround our City.  We understand that Cattaraugus County has one of the highest property tax rates in the state and continually investigate innovative ways to reduce property taxes. “
 
Mayor Geoff Szymanski of Lackawanna said, “The Governor’s proposal to lower the property tax is the latest example of his commitment to providing relief for New York’s working and middle class families. By eliminating duplicative services and finding ways to reduce inefficiencies, local governments have an opportunity to join in this effort and achieve real savings for New Yorkers. I am optimistic that if we work together, we can streamline local government and make a sustained difference for the people of Erie County.”
 
The Property Tax Burden in New York

Included in Governor Cuomo's FY 2018 Executive Budget, the shared services proposal will build on mandate relief and local government efficiency programs recently established by the Governor, including the Municipal Restructuring Fund and the Municipal Consolidation and Efficiency Competition. The property tax is the largest tax burden for New Yorkers across the state, with the typical taxpayer paying 2.5 times more in property taxes than in income taxes. Westchester, Nassau and Rockland rank among the five highest counties in the nation for the cost of property taxes, and in terms of property taxes paid as a share of home value, 13 of the 15 highest-taxed counties are in New York, primarily upstate, with Wayne, Monroe and Cattaraugus among the highest in the country.

Though property taxes are controlled by local governments, the Governor has made it a priority to help reduce the burden property taxes for all New Yorkers. The Property Tax Cap is at the center of these efforts, and aided by more than $100 million in State efficiency programs, it has driven local governments to control costs and save the typical homeowner $2,100 through 2016. When combined with the Property Tax Freeze, the Property Tax Cap has saved taxpayers more than $17 billion through 2016.

This initiative builds on local government efficiency programs established earlier by Governor Cuomo, including the Citizens Re-Organization and Empowerment Grant and the Citizens Empowerment Tax Credit. Together they aim to not only empower citizens, but also to give local governments the tools they need to remain compliant with the Property Tax Cap.

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