Yorktown town board members have released a statement regarding Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's 2013-2014 Executive Budget proposal and applauded him for the focus on mandate relief.
In the statement, they said they were "excited to hear that the budget builds on the significant mandate relief enacted last year, with reforms proposed for worker's compensation, pension contributions, binding arbitration and reporting requirements."
"Governor Cuomo has recognized that in this challenging fiscal climate for local governments, mandate relief is the number one priority to ease the tax burden on our citizens," Yorktown Supervisor Michael Grace said. "After passing our town budget with a historic tax cut, the Governor's budget proposal will provide us the flexibility we need to continue to live within our means."
The rest of the statement reads:
The executive budget proposes mandate relief for local governments with series of reforms to reduce the cost of purchasing workers' compensation insurance. An estimated $900 million in savings, according to the Division of the Budget, could be realized by reducing assessments and streamlining the system.
"As a small business owner who has fought vociferously against unfunded mandates like the MTA payroll tax in order to get New York back open for business, I am grateful for Governor Cuomo's bold proposal to fix worker's comp," Councilman Terrance Murphy said. "The Governor's reforms could allow businesses significant benefits while preserving the rights of workers and saving our taxpayers millions."
The Governor's budget also creates a stable rate pension contribution option to help local governments with the escalating cost of pension obligations. After passage of the landmark Tier VI bill last year, with an estimated savings of $80 billion over 30 years, local governments wanted more, Councilman Dave Paganelli said.
"Tier VI was an important long-term step in achieving mandate relief and ending our ignominious distinction as the most highly taxed county and state in the nation," Paganelli said. "The Governor is offering a way for local governments like Yorktown to realize some immediate savings from Tier VI, as well as provide greater predictability for our future budgeting needs."
Through the Tier VI financing plan, the Governor has proposed giving local governments the option to dramatically reduce near-term pension payments by locking in a lower, stable rate, while requiring higher than normal contributions in the latter years. This proposal is fiscally neutral to the retirement funds over the full length of the period, according to the Division of the Budget.
"I salute Governor Cuomo for proposing a $15 million dollar increase to the Environmental Protection Fund, while at the same time holding the line flat on state spending and providing a modest increase in education spending," Councilman Nick Bianco said. "Importantly, aid to municipalities has been kept stable, which, when coupled with the proposed relief from unfunded mandates and changes to binding arbitration, will be a win for our local taxpayers."
The Executive Budget contains a proposal which would balance the scales of binding arbitration, by finally giving definition to the ambiguous term for a municipalities' "ability to pay" as 2% or the rate of the tax cap formula, whichever is less. Other changes that will affect Yorktown include an end to unnecessary reporting requirements.
"All local governments and school district reporting requirements will be eliminated under the Governor's proposal, unless his Mandate Relief Council approves continuing them on a case-by-case basis," Grace said. "Reforming binding arbitration and cutting away the paperwork and red tape of state government will save taxpayers money and allow Yorktown to become more efficient while continuing to provide the great local services which make our community one of the most desirable places to live in the nation."
Click here for a copy of Governor Cuomo's proposed executive budget.