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Tax cap needs plan for mandate relief, officials say

PLATTSBURGH - The support for both sides of the property tax cap argument are being made known by local officials.

The North Country Chamber of Commerce issued a statement last week welcoming the announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders of an agreement on a new property tax cap for the state. In the statement, chamber of commerce president Garry Douglas called the legislation - which will cap property tax increases for local governments and school districts at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less - "a remarkable advance for homeowners and for job creation in the North Country and across the state."

"It's a firm cap that will have a very real impact in terms of controlling spending and taxes going forward," stated Douglas. "As the governor recently pointed out in Lake Placid, property taxes have become the biggest impediment to growth and prosperity in New York. We thank the governor for his extraordinary leadership, and the legislature for listening to their constituents."

Douglas further stated the chamber of commerce and its allies across the state will now turn their attention to the need for "meaningful state mandate relief" as a follow-up to the property tax cap.

However, not all are convinced the property tax cap is in the best interest of taxpayers as proposed and that mandate relief must be decided upon before legislation is agreed upon by the Assembly and the Senate.

County administrator Michael Zurlo expressed his concern with the legislation during a regular meeting of the county legislature May 25, calling it "a very emotional issue." The tax cap, said Zurlo, must include "meaningful mandate relief" in order to be successful.

"Mandate relief is not a part of this program," said Zurlo, referring to the most recent version of the cap proposed. "Supporters of the program indicate that this tax cap will lead to mandate relief. I certainly hope that's the case."

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