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Russell: State will be able to meet budget deadline; tax relief proposal ‘evolving’


State lawmakers anticipate passing another on-time budget by the April 1 deadline, according to Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell.

“I have every reason to believe the budget will be on time again this year,” Mrs. Russell said Friday in a meeting with reporters to discuss the state’s 2014-15 spending plan.

While the Assembly and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo do not see eye-to-eye on many issues — including a new tax relief program — Mrs. Russell, D-Theresa, said these concerns are being addressed.

“A lot of the provisions of the proposal are under negotiation and evolving,” she said. “I have been a supporter of the ‘circuit breaker’ plan of relieving people from their tax burden and I hope that becomes a component.”

Gov. Cuomo’s “property tax freeze” proposal would provide direct tax rebates to homeowners in communities that keep their levy increase under the state’s “tax cap” and then develop a plan to further eliminate government redundancies.

New York’s tax levy cap is the rate of inflation — which would be under 1.5 percent in the 2014-15 fiscal year for public schools — or 2 percent a year, whichever is less.

The Assembly favors the ‘circuit breaker’ plan, which takes into account the property owner’s income and provides tax relief for homeowners earning less than $200,000 a year.

While the governor’s office promotes the rebate plan as a way to pressure municipal leaders and school district officials to look at consolidation more seriously, local officials argue that the plan is too complicated and penalizes communities that already have made significant steps towards government efficiency and calls for further state mandate reliefs.

“I know just how much coordination and shared services goes on here in the north country,” she said. “The proposal didn’t provide for any room to acknowledge that counties have been sharing services with each other, with towns and villages. And he (Gov. Cuomo) did acknowledge that that was a dynamic of different parts of the state and some communities have done a better job than others.”

The state Senate last week proposed its own counter proposal dubbed “Freeze Plus NY” that borrows elements from the governor’s program but would reward local governments and school districts that stay within the tax cap instead of just homeowners.

“I think we can come to an agreement that incorporates that as well as acknowledges the hard work that places like Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties have done for many years on driving costs out of government and keeping property taxes as stable as possible,” Mrs. Russell said.

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