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O’Hearn offers alternative to tax freeze   ADVERTISEMENT

O’Hearn offers alternative to tax freeze

SCHUYLER COUNTY—Schuyler County Administrator Tim O’Hearn offered a different proposal for tax relief within the county. After presenting on Gov. Cuomo’s proposed tax cap freeze and rebates program, O’Hearn and the Schuyler County Legislature agreed it would be an ineffective way to provide tax relief during the legislative review committee meeting Wednesday, March 5. Instead, O’Hearn provided an alternative which would save the average homeowner $626 on their bill.
“It’s almost like asking the legislature or the public ‘Do you like mom and apple pie?’” O’Hearn said. “Of course you do, so you must like freezing taxes.”
O’Hearn said in year one of the governor’s proposal, state rebate checks will be sent to homeowners in jurisdictions that are within tax cap. He said the rebate check is equal to the increase in their property tax bill, which will be effectively “freezing” the property tax. In year two, state checks will be sent to homeowners in jurisdictions that are within the tax cap and have agreed to shared services or a consolidation plan. The county administrator said if the rebate program had been in place for 2014, the average home would have received a check for $16.75.
“The alternative I’m suggesting is let’s use this opportunity to push for a realignment of responsibilities,” O’Hearn said. “Let’s have the state assume the full cost of some if not all of its programs.”
O’Hearn outlined the proposed alternative in three phases. Phase one consists of the state paying for its Medicaid program, resulting in an immediate property tax cut of $3.7 million (34 percent) in Schuyler County. He said the average homeowner’s bill would drop from $837 to $552.
Phase two makes the state pay for its PreK, special education and early intervention programs, which would cut county taxes by another $400,000 (3.6 percent from the year before). O’Hearn said the average homeowner’s bill drops from $552 to $521 with this phase.
Phase three makes the state pay for its indigent legal defense obligation and child welfare programs. O’Hearn said county taxes would be cut by another $845,000 (7.8 percent from the year before) while the average homeowner’s bill drops from $521 to $456.
Phase four makes the state pay for its public assistance programs and costs to administer its mandated social service programs. The administrator said county taxes would be cut by another $3.2 million (29 percent from the year before), dropping the average homeowner’s bill from $456 to $211.
“If you want to put New York on a level playing field with other states, this is what you are going to have to do,” O’Hearn said.
County Chairman Dennis Fagan said the governor has been receiving pushback from opposition in the Senate, adding he does not see the governor’s proposal as meaningful tax relief.
“To think we are solving our tax problems with a $16 check to someone with a $100,000 piece of property as a property tax rebate is not what I would tout as meaningful tax relief to residents in New York State,” Fagan said.

 

 

 



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