Property Tax Crisis Has Solutions; Needs Action

Legislative column by Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)
July 25, 2008

Just as the force of a freight train barreling down the tracks seems unstoppable, so too is the ever-increasing level of our property taxes. It is sad to note that New York residents pay among the highest property taxes in the nation. Residents are screaming for relief. For many it will come too late as they have already packed their things and relocated to a less expensive place to call home.

Finding comprehensive, long-term meaningful property tax reform is my number one priority. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It will take a series of legislative measures to make New York state affordable again.

My Assembly Conference and I have been calling for a cap on property taxes at 4 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. We understand that capping property taxes will only work if we do it in conjunction with the elimination of burdensome unfunded mandates and scaling back on county Medicaid costs. It is reassuring that The New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief, Governor David Paterson and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos all have embraced these proposals. Yet, to date, no action has been taken.

This year, I introduced legislation called The Working Families Property Tax Relief Act. This measure would cap residential property taxes on people earning $100,000 a year or less while holding harmless municipalities and special districts for any loss of revenue. My legislation would be the most beneficial to the residents of the Finger Lakes and Central New York region where families are struggling to make ends meet. In particular, this bill would dramatically help young families and seniors afford their own home.

The bottom line is that there are a number of potential solutions to our property tax crisis. The state Legislature must take action now to enact a tax cap, along with other measures, to stop soaring property taxes. The state Senate seems determined to move on these proposals this summer with talk of their imminent session. Yet, the Assembly remains adjourned.

I am calling on Speaker Sheldon Silver and his conference to call the people’s house back into session so that we can debate and vote on the merits of all these proposals. It is essential that we adopt legislation that will provide much-needed relief while maintaining a funding stream that will continue to give our children a quality education. I will continue my fight to implement a comprehensive solution to the property tax crisis for the sake of all the people living in the Empire State.

As always, constituents with questions regarding this topic or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or e-mail me at