Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone added his name Monday to the list of local government officials who say they support Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s property-tax plan.
“He recognizes that high property taxes remain a high burden on our homeowners and that we need to continue to attract new businesses to our region,” Bellone, a Democrat, said in a statement.
With the state budget due in a week, Cuomo, also a Democrat, has been trying to build support for his plan, even as it faces opposition in the state Legislature. The governor says his proposal effectively would “freeze” property taxes by offering rebates to homeowners to match increases in local property taxes – but only if their municipalities and school districts abide by the state's 2 percent property tax cap and take steps to share or consolidate services.
Along with announcing Bellone’s support, Cuomo’s campaign said it was releasing a TV ad promoting the tax plan.
But the plan has been received skeptically by state legislators who contend it would provide modest savings for homeowners and could potentially cut services for residents, while pushing many governments closer to fiscal crisis after years of layoffs and cuts. Sen. Diane Savino (D-Staten Island) said "nobody" who attended state budget hearings in February liked the plan.
The governor has called his proposal “the single most important thing in the budget.” He has been rolling out local-government supporters of his plan. Along with Bellone, Suffolk County Legislature Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville) said Monday he backs the plan. A week earlier, Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, a Republican, joined Cuomo at a press conference touting the initiative.