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Edwards: Tax Cap Isn’t The Answer

October 1, 2010
Executive Touts Need To End Unfunded Mandates

By Nicholas L. Dean

POSTED: September 30, 2010

MAYVILLE – A property tax cap is not the answer – at least not one without an end to unfunded state mandates.

That was one of several messages which County Executive Greg Edwards returned from Buffalo with earlier this month.

“The property tax cap is a fallacy if it does not come with honesty in Albany and the elimination of further unfunded mandates,” Edwards said.

The New York State Association of Counties met for its fall seminar in Buffalo earlier this month, a three-day series of workshops and discussions.

At the conference, NYSAC prepared a “Primer on the Tax Cap” slide presentation. The document can be found with this story online at www.post-journal.com.

“I think, in theory, it’s a wonderful thing if there’s a corresponding obligation on the state to end unfunded mandates,” Edwards said of the tax cap. “It has been proposed. In fact, (Gov.) Paterson has proposed it and, I believe, all three of the governor candidates have proposed it, but nobody has tied it to the reality of ending unfunded mandates.”

Without an end to unfunded mandates, Edwards said a tax cap ties the county’s hands.

“It would mean that we would have to cut more from our roads and bridges, more from our public safety, more from economic development and more from our seniors, as all those are the only areas we can control,” Edwards said. “So it starts and ends in Albany. Counties are so close to the people and our operations are so transparent that there’s no confusion there.

“What I do not want,” Edwards continued, “is for them to propose a property tax cap and then be put in a position of having to go to my taxpayers and ask for an exception to the property tax cap. The explanation would be that the state is demanding more from us, more for programs over which we don’t have any control. You put that together with increases in salary or increases in health insurance or pension and it’s going to be more than whatever the number is they fix. That’s not honesty. That’s not a fair chain of command. That’s not, ‘the buck stops here,’ and that’s why I have a real problem with the tax cap.”

The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving all 62 counties of New York state, including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate and advocate for member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public. The conference this month was NYSAC’s 85th Fall Seminar anniversary.

IKE1952  09-30-10 10:32 AM

A property tax cap without the state dialing back on all of their punitive mandates that were created to curry favor with the unions and special interest groups, will do nothing, except push local governments and school districts into bankruptcy.

On the surface, the tax cap sounds good, but in reality, without taking on the interest groups and delivering on needed mandate relief, it will only be another Albany ineffective and destructive gimmick.

Edwards is right.

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