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Governor Hochul to counties: Cut school taxes

By Andrew Harris

Many NY counties like Allegany and Steuben have been asking the Governor to send a large payment from the federal government back to the county coffers. Both county legislatures have sent formal notice to Governor Kathy Hochul asking her to reconsider and distribute the money as intended: To reimburse counties for extra expenses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allegany County Chairman W. Brooke Harris released a call to action late last week, working with a statewide protest against the money move you can find at Costshiftcountdown.com. That message can be summarized by the Chairman’s statement: “….hold the State accountable for their own programs and out-of-control Medicaid costs!”

The calls for action and demands for an explanation from the Governor went unanswered until last week. NYStateofPolitics.com reported that the Governor seemed unmoved, in fact she was inspired by the protest, so much that her statement was somewhat shocking for a Democratic Governor.

This segment from that reporting is the Governor’s attempt to shoot a hole in the county argument that her decision to keep the funds will hurt property taxpayers:

“But Hochul, speaking with reporters after an event touting her housing plans in the budget, said the onus should be on a much bigger driver of property taxes in New York: schools. 

Hochul pointed to the billions of additional dollars sent to school districts each year, with a record of amount of spending in direct aid proposed once again this year and likely to win approval with the Democratic-controlled Legislature.  

“School districts can meet their needs, but also this is an opportunity for them to cut their school taxes,” Hochul said. 

NYStateofPolitics.com

We asked Wellsville Superintendent of Schools David Foster for his thoughts on the subject but Mr. Foster declined comment. Hornell Superintendent Jeremy Palotti was asked the same question but did not provide an reply as of publishing this article.

School taxes are generally the largest portion of a property tax bill. That is offset by the state’s STAR and Enhanced STAR program. Tax hawks in New York often point to school taxes as an opportunity to reduce some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

Rarely does a Democrat from New York State publicly suggest tax cuts are in order. The Governor ended her comments with NYStateofPolitics.com by saying, “We are working with the counties.”

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