Fulfill the Promise: Couple Property Tax Cap Extension with Mandate Relief

A Statement by Stephen J. Acquario, New York State Association of Counties Executive Director
As State Lawmakers consider making the property tax cap permanent, county leaders call on them to reduce local costs with permanent mandate relief, as they promised they would do when they enacted the cap three years ago.

Over the last seven years, since the beginning of the “Great Recession,” counties have held the line on property taxes with the average annual increase of just 1.66 percent per year. But our ability to control costs is limited by the state mandates that counties must deliver and fund through the property tax.

County taxes are used to pay $7.5 billion in state Medicaid payments, pension contributions in excess of $1 billion, and indigent defense, early intervention and preschool special education are among the other state responsibilities that county taxpayers fund at more than $1 billion more each year.

Making the property tax cap permanent without providing mandate relief is not sustainable.

We are putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg. The tax cap is great for bringing attention to high property taxes in New York State, but it does not fix the problem.

We can and must do more. Without mandate relief we cannot reduce current property tax levels, and New York will continue to struggle to grow our economy, attract businesses and people and improve our quality of life.