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Elected officials united in opposing Cuomo's tax plan

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Elected officials united in opposing Cuomo's tax plan
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Elected officials from all over Tompkins County came together Thursday to speak out against Governor Cuomo's proposed property tax freeze. They say it's the wrong way to get to lower taxes. Tamara Lindstrom tells us why the bi-partisan group says the governor doesn't seem to understand the real issues driving up taxes.

TOMPKINS COUNTY, N.Y. -- Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to freeze property taxes has elected leaders across Tompkins County shaking their heads.

"The implication is the bigger you are, the more efficient you are," said Herb Engman, (D) Ithaca Town Supervisor. "If you follow that argument to its logical extreme, it means the state should be running everything. And who believes the state is more efficient than local government?"

Cuomo's proposal calls for local officials to stick to the two percent property tax cap, and share services.

Dozens of representatives gathered in Ithaca Thursday to speak out against the plan, after the governor blamed high property taxes on duplicate local governments.

"As though local governments were at fault," said Mike Lane, (D) Tompkins County Legislature Chair. "We don't agree with him on that, We think the real cost here is state-mandated programs. And we need to realign those costs with the municipality, or the state in this case, that directs those services."

The Tompkins County Council of Governments is calling for the state to pick up the tab for Medicaid.

"We all support the idea of needing to lower local property taxes. It's that the way to do that is not by focusing on what local governments are doing, but to instead focus on the mandates that come to local governments from the state. Because you can't cut what you don't have any control over," said Kate Supron, Mayor of Cayuga Heights and co-chair of the Tompkins county Council of Governments.

The elected officials say the governor's plan doesn't take into account the way that small governments work, and shows a disconnect between the governor and the rest of upstate New York.

"We've done a tremendous amount of what the governor is saying we should be doing," Engman said. "He doesn't understand we've already done it. And in his plan we get no credit for having done any of that."

From water and sewer to fire services, health insurance and dog control, local leaders say sharing services is already business as usual.

Lane says taxes in Tompkins County would go down $26 million if the state paid for its largest mandates, a savings of 57 percent for taxpayers.

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