WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. – Short-term property tax relief may be the result of a state initiative that would give incentives to local communities to cut long-term, structural costs through shared services, but some Westchester officials say relief from mandated items also needs to be addressed.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed budget includes a two-year property tax freeze for residents in communities that stay under the tax cap both years. In year two, the taxing entity must also submit a shared services plan with nearby communities that saves money.
“The governor's initiative is a bold idea that has the conceptual support of a bipartisan commission comprised of government and business leaders,” Mount Kisco Mayor Michael Cindrich said. “As the program works its way through the legislative process, I am sure the complex issue of mandate relief will surface.”
Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina said he likes the idea of cutting costs through shared services, but added that the state needs to hold up its end of the bargain.
“We want to observe the tax limits, but Albany also has to observe its mandates,” he said.
There are 10,500 local governments in New York State, which Cuomo said needs to be reduced through consolidation of towns, villages or other taxing districts.
“I think it’s a good idea to incentivize efforts to find shared services,” State Sen. George Latimer (D – Mamaoneck) told the Daily Voice. “But, here’s the key, I want it bottom up. I don’t want it forced by anybody.”
The Town of Rye did a dissolution study in recent years, which has yet to move forward. It would remove a layer of government and reduce taxes for the villages of Rye Brook, Port Chester and Mamaroneck, which would all become coterminous town/villages in one scenario.
“The coterminous town/village option far out weights the other options as far as I’m concerned and feeds into what Cuomo’s concept is,” Village of Mamaroneck Mayor Norman Rosenblum said.
While that same study also explored possible shared services between all communities involved, Mamaroneck town and village already share its sanitation district, EMS and other agencies.
Similarly, the town and village of Ossining have 15 intermunicipal agreements (IMAs) with each other.
Cindrich said Mount Kisco is pursuing an IMA with Westchester County for police services, something that saves the Town of Ossining hundreds of thousands of dollars annually
“The Village/Town of Mount Kisco is way ahead of the curve on the issue of shared services, and the consolidation of municipal services,” Cindrich said.