December 18, 2017
Contact: Richard Loconte, 212-709-1691
GOVERNOR CUOMO UNVEILS 6TH PROPOSAL OF THE 2018 STATE OF THE STATE: CONTINUE TO REDUCE THE LOCAL PROPERTY TAX BURDEN BY MAKING THE STATE"S COUNTY SHARED SERVICES PANELS PERMANENT
State Funding for Local Government Performance Aid Will Now Be Conditioned On Shared Services Panels
The Typical Taxpayer Pays 2.5 Times More in Local Property Taxes than Income Taxes
State to Provide $225 Million to Match Savings from County Wide Shared Services Initiative Plans
Will Align State Funding to Allow the Permanent Panels to Implement Efficiencies and Shared Services
Proposals Builds off Success of Governor"s Aggressive Program to Lower Property Taxes Including the 2 Percent Tax Cap, 2017 County-Wide Shared Services Initiative, and State"s Property Tax Relief Program
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled the 6th proposal of the 2018 State of the State: the 2018 taxpayer savings plan to continue to combat New York"s most burdensome tax - the local property tax.
"This year, we made unprecedented advancements in providing real, tangible savings for property taxpayers across New York and with this proposal we seek to build upon this work," Governor Cuomo said. "While forces in Washington seek to raise taxes on hardworking middle class New Yorkers, we, with our partners in local government, will continue to work to cut costs, find efficiencies and lower property taxes."
The Governor proposes the following:
Make the Successful County-Wide Shared Services Panels Permanent
First, Governor Cuomo proposes making the state"s successful county-wide shared services panels permanent. Established in the Governor"s 2017 budget, the panels led by counties have two years to complete their plans. The state has committed to matching the recurring property tax savings implemented by the local governments in year one. In the first year alone, 34 counties submitted nearly 400 projects with more than $200 million in savings.
Second, Governor Cuomo will propose that state funding for local government performance aid will now be conditional on the continuation of shared services panels. $125 million allocated in last year"s state budget is authorized to plan and implement efficiencies and shared services. The panels are led by the chief executive officer of each county and consist of city, village, town, and other local officials, including the option of school districts, and BOCES. Each panel will submit an annual bottom-up plan to the Department of State that will enhance access to the state"s efficiency incentives.
Reduce Local Health Insurance Cost by Easing Rules on the Creation of Local Healthcare Consortia
Local health insurance costs have increased significantly for local governments across the state. Over the past 10 years, employee benefit costs for local governments have grown at an average of 5.2 percent annually and now account for more than 20 percent of local government spending. One way to lower health insurance costs is to pool local governments health plans into healthcare consortia. There are examples, where leveraging the buying power of many governments could lower costs, save local tax dollars, and not affect employee"s plans.
However, during the recent county-wide shared services planning process local governments raised concerns that there are regulatory burdens, especially for smaller governments, that make pooling health insurance among local government legally or financially prohibitive. Therefore, Governor Cuomo will direct the New York State Department of Financial Services to publish guidance and provide technical assistance to local governments in order to ease the process of creating health consortia, specifically for smaller municipalities.
The Governor has directed the Department of State and other agencies to continue to work with local municipalities to examine other legal and policy impediments to shared services by municipalities, such as zoning and other functions, to be considered this session.
State to Provide $225 Million to Match Savings from County Wide Shared Services Initiative Plans
The Executive Budget will include a $225 million appropriation as a state match for savings from shared services plans. To incentivize and recognize local governments that undertake shared services projects to generate long term benefits for their property taxpayers, the FY 2018 Enacted Budget committed to providing a one-time match for any savings achieved through the County Wide Shared Services Initiative. The new $225 million to be included with the FY 2019 Executive Budget will provide resources to meet the match commitment.
The State Local Property Tax Relief Credit
The Governor will additionally continue the state"s local property tax relief program that will provide an average reduction of $380 in local property taxes to 2.6 million homeowners this year alone.
In his first year in office, Governor Cuomo advanced and secured approval of one of the strongest property tax caps in the country. Since enactment of the cap, property taxes have grown by an average of just two percent per year - less than half the average annual growth from 2000 to 2010.
To provide further relief, in 2014 the Governor worked with the Legislature to enact the Property Tax Freeze. The freeze program provided New York homeowners an average of $500 in direct relief over three years, bringing the combined average savings from the tax cap and the tax freeze to $2,600. The freeze program also encouraged local shared services, cooperation agreements, mergers, and efficiencies.
In June 2015, an additional program was enacted to provide direct relief to struggling New York taxpayers - the Property Tax Relief Credit. This four-year program will have delivered a total of $3.2 billion to State homeowners. The program is progressively structured so that taxpayers with lower incomes receive a higher benefit. This year, homeowners will receive the third installment, with an average benefit of $380. In its final year, 2019, the program will provide $1.3 billion of property tax relief and an average credit of $530.
"Our local governments in New York State have made tremendous strides when it comes to consolidating costs with over $200 million in savings thanks to Governor Cuomo"s leadership on community service sharing," Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. "By implementing permanent Shared Services Panels, the Governor is showing taxpayers that New York is serious about saving them money."
Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, "Suffolk County is leading the state to advance the most comprehensive and ambitious shared services plan that will save taxpayer dollars. Governor Cuomo is taking the next step to enhance our collaborative efforts by establishing local healthcare consortia and making these panels permanent."
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said, "Onondaga County taxpayers saved money as a result of the shared services panel last year. We welcome the opportunity proposed by the Governor to continue looking for ways to collaborate and take advantage of the state matching dollars. When elected officials come together in good faith, the people we serve are the beneficiaries and I am confident that will happen with this proposal."
Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said, "Albany County has a long standing commitment to working collaboratively with our municipalities, and this year"s Shared Services Panel was a great opportunity to expand our efforts with support from the Governor. The specific proposal to allow local healthcare consortiums is a cost savings opportunity we identified in our report, and we are excited to see the Governor"s vision to make this a reality."
Ulster County Executive Michael P. Hein said, "Reducing property taxes has been a central vision for Governor Cuomo, demonstrating his commitment to middle class families across New York who have long been burdened by these high property taxes. This continued shared services proposal will help eliminate wasteful government spending, finding efficiencies in our counties, effectively reducing property taxes statewide. Governor Cuomo"s 2017 shared services plan created real benefits for the working families of New York, and with this new proposal, those benefits will continue."
Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus said, "The Governor"s initiative to have local governments share services is a smart one. Orange County has enacted a new local law to enable us to address unsafe buildings in cooperation with our local government partners. In addition, we are developing a countywide emergency services system to keep people safer. The County also continues to work with towns who want the County"s assistance in dispatching police service and providing local assessing services. Finding common ground among our local government partners benefits taxpayers."
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente said, "Shared services reduces government waste and creates efficiencies while providing property tax relief to the hardworking families of New York. With Governor Cuomo"s shared services plan last year, positive impacts and real cost savings were clear, providing relief for property taxpayers in our communities. This proposal builds off the success of his 2017 plan, and will continue the benefits we saw last year. I applaud Governor Cuomo on his commitment to easing the property tax burden for New Yorkers, and hope to see plans like these continue."
Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli said, "Chemung County has been a leader in shared services arrangements over the last several years. As Chemung County and its municipalities continue to work on our next shared services initiatives, we applaud the fact that the Governor has added additional resources to help local government implement our goals".
Broome County Executive Jason Garnar said, "Thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo"s Shared Services Initiative this year, we found out that when you share, you save. It was an honor to work with our municipalities and school districts to submit a shared services plan to improve efficiency in Broome County and save up to $20 million. I look forward to continuing our work with the Broome County shared services panel and finding more ways to save our taxpayers money in 2018."
Nassau County Executive-Elect Laura Curran said, "High property taxes have been a burden on New York"s middle-class for far too long. Since day one of his administration, Governor Cuomo has been committed to finding a solution to ease that burden that is in the best interest of our working families, our counties, and our state. Through shared services, the Governor"s plan is reducing waste in government while saving taxpayers money. I commend Governor Cuomo on his efforts, and look forward to working with him to serve taxpayers better in Nassau County."
Chautauqua County Executive-Elect George Borrello said, "As a county legislator and Chairman of the Chautauqua County Regional Solutions Commission, I worked hard to make our county government more efficient, streamline services and cut costs for taxpayers. As the newly elected County Executive, I look forward to working together with the Governor to continue this important effort."
Oswego County Legislature Chairman Kevin Gardner said, "Under Governor Cuomo"s leadership, taxpayers across the state have seen real cost savings, helping to put more money back in the pockets of middle class New Yorkers. The success of the Governor"s shared services initiative is clear, and with this proposal, New York is positioned to continue providing cost-saving benefits to New York residents. I thank local governments across the state for their continued partnership to help cut costs for hardworking individuals and their families."
Greene County Legislature Chairman Kevin Lewis said, "With the latest upgrade to the 2017 shared services proposal, New York is once again serving as a national model for government efficiency. Through collaboration with local partners, sharing services such as health insurance options allows us to cut wasteful government spending and put hard-earned money back in the pockets of working New Yorkers. Governor Cuomo"s leadership and dedication to the middle-class is apparent, as this proposal will provide further benefits to New Yorkers across the state."
Jefferson County Legislature Chairman Scott Gray said, "Since Governor Cuomo has implemented this shared services initiative, these measures have quickly proven efficient and cost-effective to control the property taxes. It is clear that, when done correctly, shared services not only save taxpayer dollars, but also that the process brings forth additional methods in which local governments can work together to provide services more effectively to the public. I applaud the local government officials who, under the Governor"s leadership, were able to provide smart solutions to difficult problems across New York State, and I look forward to further resolutions that come forward under this continued effort."
Sullivan County Legislature Chairman Luis Alvarez, "Governor Cuomo"s dedication lowering taxes for New York"s middle class families has been clear since day one of his administration. By continuing and enhancing the shared services initiative, we can provide real relief to taxpayers across the state. Through the elimination of local government inefficiencies and waste, the taxpayers of New York will continue to see real cost savings. I thank Governor Cuomo for his leadership and continued support of hardworking New Yorkers."
Franklin County Legislature Chair Barbara Rice said, "The shared service proposal that Governor Cuomo has put forward recognizes the ongoing effort and cooperative spirit that exists between local governments. The potential cost savings realized through these plans will have a real impact on the lives of hard working people in New York. I applaud the Governor for his continued efforts on behalf of the tax payers of New York State."
Rockland County Legislature Chairman Toney Earl said, "Governor Cuomo"s newest State of the State proposal to encourage more shared services will help local taxpayers save money. The Hudson Valley is expensive to live in and we know we must do more with less in order to keep our community affordable. I am looking forward to working collaboratively with local stakeholders towards accomplishing that goal."
Clinton County Legislature Chairman Harry McManus said, "For years, local governments have operated in many cases autonomously and through Governor Cuomo"s shared services proposal, government spending will be reduced, easing the burden that property taxes have placed on taxpayers across New York. This plan will lead to a real cost savings for many, and I thank Governor Cuomo for his commitment to the hardworking families of New York."
Cattaraugus County Minority Leader Sue Labuhn said, "We have been proud in Cattaraugus County to convene several very successful shared services meetings and would appreciate the Governor"s support to continue doing so."
Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ron Conover said, "Sharing government services is proven to save taxpayers money and speed up response times in emergencies. Under Governor Cuomo"s leadership, New York continues to cut property taxes by reducing the cost of local government, and with this proposal, New York State demonstrates its commitment to running an efficient government and keeping more money in taxpayers" pockets."
Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read said, "I"m incredibly pleased to see that all the good progress and great conversations that flowed from the Governor"s Shared Services Initiative has led to his proposal to explore shared services on a permanent basis. I"d called for that, and the Governor has listened to those who see the potential of a sustained focus on sharing of services and seeking of efficiencies. I believe we"ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in what is possible for our municipalities and on behalf of our taxpayers."
Oswego Mayor Billy Barlow said, "Thanks to Governor Cuomo local governments will now have more of an incentive to share services, cut costs and reduce the property tax burden on New Yorkers. In Oswego, we"ve already worked to reduce costs and find efficiencies by working with our surrounding municipal partners and we will continue to follow Governor Cuomo"s lead by continuing to find new innovative ways to administer quality city services while reducing the overall cost to Oswego residents."
Binghamton Mayor Richard C. David said, "Streamlining operations and reducing bureaucratic layers should be a top priority for all local governments in New York State. Ultimately, smart shared service plans reduce costs and allow municipalities to pass along critical savings to taxpayers. I thank Governor Cuomo for continuing to make shared service opportunities a focus."
Village of Massena Mayor Tim Currier said, "Here in the North Country, we know a great deal about shared services as we have been doing it for years. Even so, we can and must do more. Reducing costs is a challenge in local government, however, incentivizing shared services should motivate us to all be creative. With Governor Andrew Cuomo"s continued support of shared services, the taxpayers will continue to see the benefits of local municipalities working together."
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for his progressive shared services plan that undoubtedly will assist New York property taxpayers," said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano. "As the largest city in Westchester County, Yonkers is and will continue to work diligently with the county government and other local municipalities to ensure our residents see significant savings, while still receiving quality services."
Village of Potsdam Mayor Ron Tischler said, "By expanding the Governor"s shared services plan with this proposal, New York State is continuing to showcase clear ways to enhance government efficiency, and is proving to others around the country that this is the way government was intended to work. Under Governor Cuomo"s leadership, Empire State taxpayers are saving time, money, and resources, and with this proposal, New Yorkers will continue to reap the benefits of shared services statewide."
Property taxes are among some of the highest in the nation, burdening middle-class taxpayers in New York with the typical taxpayer paying 2.5 times more in property taxes than income taxes. Westchester, Nassau and Rockland rank among the five highest counties in the nation for the cost of property taxes and in terms of property taxes paid as a share of home value,13 of the 15 highest-taxed counties are in New York, primarily upstate, with Wayne, Monroe and Cattaraugus among the highest in the country.
Building on the Governor"s landmark success with the shared services program and his historic commitment to reducing property taxes for New Yorkers last year, the state will take a step forward in providing local governments with new opportunities to put money back in the pockets of middle-class families.