Offering Solutions To New York’s Property Tax Crisis
Legislative column by Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)
April 18, 2008
New Yorkers are fleeing the state in search of cheaper places to live and work. In fact since 2000, New York has lost 1.2 million residents to other states. Their reasons for leaving are clear; property taxes in New York are 28 percent higher than the national average, with 79 percent of all taxes collected from outside New York City. This burden is too much for most upstate families to bear. We must address this property tax crisis now to stop the exodus of residents from our state. Unfortunately, comprehensive property tax reform was not thoroughly addressed in the completed 2008-09 State Budget. Instead of moving forward with a tax cap on property tax levies at 4 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, we await the results of yet another state-sanctioned commission. While this commission continues to “study” solutions to the property tax problem, I suggest we take action on several solutions. In addition to capping property taxes, I believe that we should restrict unfunded mandates placed on our school districts and municipalities. Programs mandated, yet unfunded by the state, force local officials to pay for services they have no control over. The crippling effects of these mandates on school and local government budgets force these officials to pass on the costs to the local taxpayer through increased property taxes. Alleviating school districts and municipalities of unfunded mandates will not only provide relief to localities, but will also provide much-needed relief to the overwhelmed taxpayers already struggling just to make ends meet. I support legislation, which requires any state mandate that is imposed on a locality and costs more than $10,000 annually or $1 million statewide, to be fully funded by the state. The idea behind this is that the Legislature will have to come up with the funding for the programs in order to implement them, significantly reducing the burdens passed along to the local school districts and municipalities. I have also introduced legislation entitled; the ‘Working Families Property Taxpayers Protection Act’, which would cap property taxes on owner-occupied residential homes of those families earning less than $100,000 a year. Additionally, my proposal would hold harmless local municipalities and special districts for any loss of revenue. The longer we wait, the more talented people are forced from our state simply because they cannot afford to live here. Rest assured I will continue my efforts to solve the negative impact of high property taxes on all New Yorkers. Should you like to discuss this or any other state-related issue, please contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.