Russell’s reform proposals included in mandate relief, tax cap legislation

June 24, 2011

Today, Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell (D-Theresa) announced passage of a mandate relief package that includes some of the provisions contained in her own reform proposals. The mandate relief package – part of an omnibus bill which includes the state’s property tax cap – contains reforms that will help local governments and school districts drive down costs.

Along with addressing a variety of other mandates, the package will allow piggybacking on information technology (IT) equipment and service contracts with federal government contracts. It also permits school districts with less than 1,000 students to share superintendents and allows school districts to provide regional transportation services with BOCES, reforms that Assemblywoman Russell has been pushing.

“Piggybacking is a simple concept that will save taxpayer dollars by allowing local governments to take advantage of better prices on equipment and services,” Assemblywoman Russell said. “I fought hard to make sure piggybacking was included in the bill. And while the provision relates specifically to IT, as opposed to a more expansive bill I have introduced, I am hopeful that we can expand upon the concept in the future.”

The bill also caps real property taxes for municipalities and schools at 2 percent of the previous year’s levy and prohibits local governments and schools from exceeding the cap without a 60 percent vote to override. The tax cap will take effect in 2012 for the school-budget year 2012-13 and will expire in 2017.

Assemblywoman Russell said the tax cap takes into account a number of factors important to many communities by allowing local governments and school districts to adjust the tax levy upward if there is a growth in the property tax base and exempting certain court orders and judgments arising out of litigation. It also provides for an exemption if pension contributions exceed 2 percent.

“This bill provides a tax cap that will place even more pressure to keep property tax increases down. It is just as important, maybe even more important, to provide relief to local governments and school districts from the policies that have been driving their expenses. I fought hard to ensure we started enacting mandate relief measures in this bill. The mandate relief included in this bill is a start. I intend to continue to band with my colleagues in the Assembly to push for more relief so we can further assist local governments and school districts to contain real property taxes,” Assemblywoman Russell said.