Cuomo visits Utica to tie property tax relief to consolidation

By Joleen Ferris

(WKTV) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo paid a last-minute visit to Utica on Tuesday, touting his property tax relief proposal at Mohawk Valley Community College. 

The governor's plan ties property tax relief to homeowners from the state to localities' ability to cut costs, in part by sharing services and consolidating where possible.

"I understand that it's difficult for government to tighten its belt. I get it. I understand it's uncomfortable. And change is hard and the status quo is easy, but it hasn't been easy for families all across the state to tighten their belt, either, and the answer can't always be 'more money more money more money,"  Cuomo said.

Local leaders agree, saying that consolidation and shared services soon won't be a preferred option, but a necessary one.

"Consolidation needs to be done by necessity rather than choice very shortly here," says Herkimer County Legislative Chairman Vincent Bono, a Republican.

Bono will soon have a roundtable discussion with seven area police departments to discuss the topic.

"So what, what it says on the side of the car? It doesn't necessarily have to say 'village of Frankfort' as long as for instance, Mohawk Valley Police Department. As long as an officer shows up, i really don't care who, so long as somebody does," says Bono.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr., also a Republican, says consolidation doesn't have to be a painful proposition.

"Is it in civil service and personnel costs? We all have the same regulations when it comes to a state government in terms of civil service and personnel. Why do we have five or six of those throughout the county processing those applications?" says Picente.

Support of local leaders such Bono and Picente is more important than ever to the governor.  The democrat-controlled assembly last week rejected the governor's property tax relief proposal from their budget resolution. The senate modified it.  Syracuse Mayor and State Democratic Party Co-Chair Stephanie Miner is against the proposal.

The state budget deadline of April 1 is two weeks from today.


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