Take Advantage Of Shared Services Meeting

Many have been skeptical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s property tax cut plan.

Approved in the 2014-15 state budget, the program takes effect over the course of two years, beginning in 2015 for municipalities and fiscal year 2014 for schools. In the first year, if a municipality stays below the tax cap, the state would refund property tax owners any tax increase. For example, if a municipality experienced a 1.5 percent increase in property taxes, homeowners would receive a refund check from the state for any increase they paid over the prior year.

According to the budget bill, property tax cuts will be extended for a second year in jurisdictions which comply with the tax cap and have a state-approved government efficiency plan demonstrating three-year savings and efficiencies of at least 1 percent of the budget per year from shared services, cooperation agreements and/or mergers or efficiencies.

We are encouraged, however, by County Executive Vince Horrigan’s efforts to help area municipalities comply with Cuomo’s plan and bring some much-needed tax relief to county taxpayers. Horrigan is convening an informational meeting Wednesday to discuss shared services among municipalities, with state officials and New York State Association of Counties officials available to answer questions from 1-4 p.m. While the meeting is not open to the public, having area elected officials in one place with people able to answer their questions and possibly offer suggestions is a good first step.

“I want to work together as a whole community to continue to provide the services our residents expect while lowering the costs of those services,” Horrigan said. “I am hopeful that this first forum will lead the way for additional shared services meetings to discuss collaboration and cooperation throughout the county.”

Good. This is the sort of local leadership needed to make sure local taxpayers receive the greatest possible benefit from Cuomo’s program. We hope the conference room at the Chautauqua County Emergency Services building is packed Wednesday with elected officials and that those officials attending come with an open mind.

Elected officials have proven over the years that they are good at spending your money. Wednesday’s meeting is a chance for them to show they are just as good at saving some of your money as well.