Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Ways and Means Chair Herman D. Farrell, Jr., announced today that the Assembly passed legislation in extraordinary session to ease the burden on local property taxpayers in the form of mandate relief for municipalities.
The legislation (Extraordinary Session Assembly Bill A.2) would reduce the cost of local government through state mandate-relief and increased flexibility for local governments to empower them to find operational efficiencies. Specifically, this bill would:
Reduce the minimum number of municipal corporations needed to establish a health insurance cooperative from five to three;
Facilitate highway shared services agreements among municipalities, and between municipalities and state agencies;
Allow one public health director to serve more than one county;
Increase the local competitive bidding threshold for all contracts for public work involving an expenditure of more than $20,000 to $35,000
Authorize the Municipal Bond Bank Agency to purchase municipal bonds for public improvements under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and allow them to issue pooled municipal bonds to achieve lower interest rates;
Treat municipal employees the same as private sector employees by prohibiting them from seeking recovery against a public employer for damages otherwise covered by insurance; and
Protect parties to the settlement of tort claims from certain unwarranted liens, reimbursements and subrogation claims.
"Over the last decade, the State of New York has taken a variety of steps to ease the burden of local property taxpayers," said Farrell (D-Manhattan). "This legislation is another step closer to eliminating waste and reducing the property tax burden. By giving flexibility to our local governments and eliminating health insurer 'double-dipping,' we can pass on the more efficient and cost saving operations. The Assembly Majority continues to work to bring tax relief the smartest and most effective way possible."
"This legislation provides much-needed relief to property owners and local businesses, who have been disproportionately burdened by fiscal uncertainty and increasing tax rates," said Assemblyman Sam Hoyt (D-Buffalo). "Entities will be empowered to consolidate their resources, and disallowing municipal employees and health insurers to 'double-dip' will streamline current law."
"My colleagues and I in the Assembly Majority recognize the need for mandate relief, and this legislation allows municipalities to effectively pool their resources to cut costs," said Assemblymember Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn). "During these tough economic times, it is critical that we use all of our resources wisely."
Silver added, "The Assembly will continue to work with Governor Paterson and the Senate in the coming days on a deficit reduction plan to close this year's $3 billion budget gap."