Allegany County Administrator Criticizes Tax Relief Commission

Allegany County Administrator Alger Condemns Tax Relief Commission’s Report

December 13, 2013

BELMONT N.Y.- Allegany Administrator Mitchell Alger issued a press release from his office on Thursday, in response to the recent release of the New York State Tax Relief Commission Final Report. Alger says that it is troubling that the Governor and the Commission fail to even mention the words “mandate relief” in the final report—which Counties have been calling for was promised since the 2% property tax cap was imposed. According to Alger, the report recommends “freezing” eligible homeowners’ property taxes by providing them with a rebate equal to the amount of the increase in a homeowner’s tax bill. In the second year of the “freeze”, the Commission suggests continuing to provide this “rebate” so long as they “reside in jurisdictions that take meaningful concrete steps towards finding permanent structural savings by sharing services with other jurisdictions or consolidating governments in their entirety,” said Alger.

“The 2014 Final Budget will be the fourth (4th) consecutive year Allegany County has reduced property tax rates for our residents,” Alger continued. “We are further seeking real mandate relief that would even more significantly reduce (not just freeze) the property tax burden for our residents. For example:
If just ONE of the “Top 9” state mandates that make up 90% of property tax levies for counties across the state—Medicaid—were taken over by New York State:
1) Allegany County’s average property tax rate could be reduced from $16.69 to $11.02 per thousand of assessed value—a $5.67 per thousand decrease or -33.97% (in the 2014 budget);
2) Allegany County’s property tax levy could be reduced from $29,349,498 to $19,364,713—a $9,984,785 decrease of -34.02% (in the 2014 budget).”

Alger also noted that it is appreciated that the Governor and the Commision are making efforts to ease the burden placed on property owners and residents of New York however, the proposed second year of the “freeze” actually penalizes the Counties that have already taken steps to consolidate, share services, and be fiscally prudent. Allegany County has been consolidating services and has followed the measures the Commission recommended for years and is glad New York State has finally realized the need for fiscal responsibility. The question the Commission should be asking under their own proposal is, “What happens in the third year when the State has used up the $1 billion surplus? Will residents then be hit with two year’s worth of property tax increases plus whatever the third year’s increase is coming from Albany’s mandates?”