Fitch objects to proposed property tax cap
YATES COUNTY—Calling it, “A fraud on people of New York State,” Yates County Legislature Chairman Taylor Fitch denounced the proposed property tax cap being considered by New York State. Fitch said, “The cap could devastate local programs. We cut back every year to try to hold the line.”
Excerpts from the resolution note the four percent cap proposal allows local boards to override the cap with a two-thirds majority vote. That would shift costs to local governments and also shift blame to local leaders for tax increases that are actually caused by the state. The resolution asked the state to significantly cut unfunded mandates that cause local property tax increases before imposing a cap on local property taxes. It noted that arbitrarily capping property taxes without addressing root causes would cripple county governments within a few short years. All non-mandated spending would have to be eliminated to meet the cap.
The main things driving costs are unfunded and underfunded state mandates. Medicaid, early intervention services, pre-school special education, public assistance, child welfare, youth detention, probation and indigent defense are examples. Additional costs include payments to the New York State Retirement System that are expected to rise 40 percent in 2011 and by a similar amount in 2010.
Payments have grown by over 1,000 percent since 2000 due to mandated benefit expansions.Capping property taxes does nothing to reduce the costs of the programs and other state services that counties must pay for and implement at the local level.
New York State has the highest property taxes in the nation. They are nearly 80 percent above the national average.
In other business: Legislators honored Glen Miller, Emergency Preparedness Director/Fire Coordinator, for 31 years of service to the citizens of Yates County. The resolution acknowledged the fact that Miller’s dedication to safety and training has made Yates County a leader in the state in preparedness and emergency management. Miller will retire Nov. 30. Following the meeting, Yates County Administrator Sarah Purdy said the Civil Service test for the position will be given in the Spring. The county is working on interim coverage.
• Miller was appointed Deputy Fire Coordinator, effective Dec. 1.
• Following a public hearing, Local Law 2-10 was adopted rescinding Local Law 3-78. Law 2-2010 is entitled A Local Law providing No Action Shall be Maintained Against the County for Certain Damages Unless County has Received Prior Written Notice.
• Nov. 7 to 14 was proclaimed Sheriff’s Week.
• November was proclaimed Home Care Month and Nov. 14 to 20 as Home Health Aide Week in Yates County.
• Legislators declared public holidays on the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. The offices of County Clerk, County Treasurer, Clerk of the Legislature and Sheriff’s Civil Office will be closed to the public on those days. The closings are based on the lack of traditional business volume during certain holidays.
There will be a public hearing on the $40,472,138 Yates County budget for 2011 at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 15. The document is available online at the Yates County website. The next meeting of the Yates County Legislature will be at 1 p.m. Monday, Dec. 13 in legislative chambers at the Yates County office building on Liberty Street in Penn Yan.