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North Hills Mayor: Statewide Task Force’s Recommendations for Property Tax Relief

Marvin Natiss, mayor of the Village of North Hills and president of the Nassau County Village Officials Association (NCVOA), joined a delegation of mayors from across Long Island at a Dec. 16 news conference to respond to a report released this week containing recommendations of the New York State Conference of Mayors’ (NYCOM) Task Force on Mandate and Property Tax Relief. The report, entitled “You Can’t Cap What You Can’t Control,” contains a significant set of mandate relief proposals, primarily in the workforce arena, that must be adopted by the State Legislature prior to considering any form of a property tax cap. It also identifies those rapidly rising costs–the growth of which is beyond local control–that must be excluded from a property tax cap.

“For decades, state mandates have been tying the hands of local officials, particularly regarding public sector salaries and benefits,” said Mayor Natiss. “These costs are the largest single component of village and budgets and the most difficult to control because they are collectively bargained and, in the case of public safety, subject to binding arbitration. This report highlights the necessary steps that must be taken to finally give us the ability to better manage our finances without having to resort to drastic cuts in services and jobs.”

In addition to calling on the state to impose a temporary freeze on public sector wages, the recommendations focus on ways to provide property tax relief by reducing local government expenses associated with employee pensions, health insurance, and police and firefighter disability benefits. The report also identifies necessary reforms to the prevailing wage and civil service laws that would help lower municipal infrastructure costs and provide public employers greater ability to manage their workforce so they can provide services more cost-effectively.

“A property tax cap without mandate relief and necessary exclusions is doomed to fail,” said Mayor Natiss. “Projected growth in pension and health insurance costs alone will exceed the 2 percent tax cap fivefold in its first two years. The untenable reality is that employee benefits would, in a few short years, consume every single dollar of capped property taxes.”

According to Mayor Natiss, the Task Force’s recommendations were sent to governor-elect Cuomo and the state legislature and will be discussed during the upcoming legislative session.

Barbaba Donno, mayor of the Village of Plandome Manor, and Alvin Solomon, deputy mayor of the Village of Plandome Heights, also participated in the news conference.