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July 8, 2014

Coalition outlines mandate-relief proposals

PLATTSBURGH — Members of a statewide coalition were in Plattsburgh Monday to continue their call for mandate relief, pushing for a number of specific changes.

Representatives of Let NY Work, comprising groups that represent business, education and local governments, outlined their proposals during a press conference at the North Country Chamber of Commerce. 

Greg MacConnell, chair of the chamber's Government Affairs Committee, said the state's 2 percent property-tax cap was a good first move.

"But, more needs to be done," he said in calling for action to end unfunded mandates.

Those continue to keep property taxes high, he said, which remains the biggest hurdle in attracting new businesses to New York. 

PROMISE NOT KEPT

Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Brian Sampson said that when Gov. Andrew Cuomo put the tax cap in place, it received widespread support — with the caveat that mandate relief be part of the picture.

Failure to enact any meaningful relief is the administration's biggest failure, he said.

"We said if 1A was the tax cap, 1B was mandate relief," Sampson said.

Municipalities and school districts have struggled and largely met the tax cap for the first few years but are now faced with making painful cuts to continue to do so.

While the administration talks about building a new New York, Sampson said, "slashing government services and slashing education will not help us build a new New York."

BINDING ARBITRATION

New York Council of Mayors Executive Director Peter Baynes said the state needs to reform its system of binding arbitration between municipalities and union employees, specifically with a better definition of ability to pay.

It should be based on a municipality's ability to pay the economic costs of arbitration awards without requiring a reduction of services or an increase in property taxes.

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