CANANDAIGUA — A governor’s initiative that supposedly would help to reduce property taxes by giving residents of local municipalities the opportunity to vote on locally designed plans that lower the cost of local government is an example of “kicking the can down the road,” according to Ontario County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Marren.
As part of a series of proposals presented as part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State message, these plans are meant to eliminate duplication of government-provided services and indicate ways of cooperating among governments to enhance purchasing power.
The initiative builds on the already instituted property tax cap and property tax freeze, Cuomo said.
These plans would be placed on the November general election ballot.
“The property tax is the most burdensome tax to homeowners and business owners in every part of the state, inhibiting their ability to grow and contribute to our economy,” Cuomo said in a prepared statement. “By challenging local governments to create a plan to streamline government bureaucracy for voter approval, this innovative and powerful initiative will empower communities and lead to real, recurring property tax savings.”
Municipalities across the state and within Ontario County have been doing this for years, said Marren, who also is Victor town supervisor.
Although the state has worked to relieve the cost of growth in Medicaid, further elimination of unfunded state mandates would go farther toward lowering taxes, he noted.
“I think this one is blaming the local guy,” Marren said. “If he wants it on the ballot, fine. I would request a vote on ethics reform, one that works.”
Canandaigua Mayor Ellen Polimeni said she had not read enough of the proposal to comment directly.
But Polimeni noted the city has not seen an increase in state aid since 2008, while maintaining local services residents want at a relatively stable tax rate.
“So much of what we fund is mandated,” Polimeni said. “It just seems he thinks all of the problems lie at the local level. But it isn’t just the governor. The Legislature plays a role in passing that budget.”