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ith_cornellonhill120The Tompkins County Council of Governments (TCCOG) is calling upon State leadership to rescind the look-back period associated with New York State property tax freeze legislation.

The State Legislature and Governor have adopted a voluntary program with financial rewards for constituents if local governments adopt 2015 budgets within limits of the Property Tax Cap law, with further rewards if by June 15, 2015 if those governments can, through consolidation and collaboration, reduce their combined property tax levy by 1%.  While the State legislation did not specify a limit of what could be used to demonstrate such shared-services efforts, the New York State Office of Taxation and Finance later limited what can be considered to only programs enacted since the beginning of 2012.

The measure notes that Tompkins County and its local governments have for years looked for ways to reduce the property tax burden, adopting many shared-services initiatives—including, but not limited to, such programs as countywide Assessment, the Greater Tompkins health benefits consortium, energy procurement, the community college, records management, and youth programming.  “Any look-back limit has a perverse irony in that homeowners in those jurisdictions where local governments adopted the innovations years ago will receive nothing,” TCCOG states.

The resolution, approved by Council members today without dissent, urges the county’s State Senate and Assembly representatives to make their leadership aware of this situation, and that they draft and advance legislation that would rescind the look-back period time limit, as well as any other limits on actions of local governments to reduce the property tax burden on their constituents.  It’s urged that representatives work to have such legislation adopted well in advance of June 2015.

County Administrator Joe Mareane told TCCOG members calculations show that the Health Benefits Consortium alone, in operation since 2011, saves 1.2% of the combined levy.

TCCOG also calls upon its member municipalities to adopt similar resolutions.

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