Gov. Andrew Cuomo stepped away from budget negotiations in Albany on Tuesday to stump for his plan to consolidate local governments and reduce property taxes, even though he admitted afterward he may not be able to push the plan through those budget talks.
Cuomo told a crowd at the DeWitt community room that after the property tax cap he pushed through earlier in his first term as governor, this was the next step in righting the state's fiscal ship.
"We have to actually find a way to cut because the rate of increase is too high," Cuomo said. "How are we going to cut? We’re going to have to do business a different way and we’re going to have to work together in a way we haven’t done before."
There are thousands of local governments in the state, Cuomo said, that often duplicate services, which drives up costs for residents.
"The numbers don't work. You want to change the trajectory? You want to change the economic climate in the state of New York? You have attack the property taxes," he said.
To encourage municipalities to consolidate services, Cuomo is offering a two percent property tax credit for residents of those that consolidate.
Cuomo has held similar events in areas where his idea has been met with favor, like Utica and now DeWitt.
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney supports the governor's proposal. She noted there are 15 police departments, 57 fire departments and 29 different municipalities that plow snow in the county, which she called outrageous.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has joined some other elected leaders that oppose the plan.
After the event, Cuomo admitted to reporters that his plan has little hope, likely among the state Senate's leadership.
"‘Not entirely on board’ was actually a gracious and generous" way to put it, he told a reporter. He said he's "cautiously optimistic" about his chances of changing the mind of the Republican and breakaway Democrat-lead Senate.
The budget is due April 1, but asked if he would be willing to miss the deadline in favor of getting in his property tax plan, Cuomo said a good budget is better than an on time budget.