North Country Assembly members comfortable with tax cap bill

Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey says tying the tax cap bill to rent control wasn't her first preference. But she says without rent control, New York City Democrats weren't going to bite.

She also notes that some of the arguments made by working people in New York City regarding rent control are similar to complaints she hears in the North Country from small business owners when it comes to property taxes.

"It's hard to disallow one and yet push for the other," Duprey said. "When I first heard the concept of linking them together, I was really opposed. But as I listened to the arguments and listened to the reasoning behind it, it started making more sense to me."

And Duprey isn't alone - most North Country Assembly members echo her sentiment regarding this week's proposal. That is, the bill isn't perfect - but it's as close as Albany is going to get.

"I think it is much better than the previous version that passed the Senate. I think it gives a little bit more local control."

Democrat Addie Russell says the Senate's tax cap bill ties down local governments - specifically, she's worried that highway departments and school districts won't be able to meet the demands of rising fuel costs.

But the Assembly bill provides a little leeway. According to Teresa Sayward, the bill takes away some of the "big ticket" items that she says would be impossible for local governments and schools to meet without specific mandate relief.

In other words, costs associated with mandated social services programs won't fall under the guise of the tax cap - the same is true for increases to pension payments. Sayward also notes that the Senate bill didn't allow schools and towns to count increased assessments.

"Which would have been horrible for communities and schools," she said. "But the bill being proposed in our house will allow for schools and municipalities to count increased assessed value, which obviously will help on the other end when they're trying to apply that to their taxes."

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