First, the good news for area school districts and municipalities: As we expected, state Gov. Andrew Cuomo is freezing property taxes for this year.
Now, the bad news. To qualify for a second year of the tax freeze, taxing entities must have a plan to merge services for the future.
"In order for their homeowners to get the tax credit in the second year, school districts and local governments must continue to stay within the tax cap and must develop a plan for sharing or consolidating services and eliminating duplication and overlap that generates savings equal to 3 percent of tax levy within five years," Cuomo said Tuesday afternoon in presenting his budget. "When these plans are fully implemented, local governments and school districts could provide property tax relief of up to $1 billion. The two-year freeze will generate an average annual tax benefit of $354 for 2.8 million beneficiaries."
How serious are local officials and residents when it comes to working with the governor's plans? If recent failures of school mergers and infighting over a proposed water district are any indication, taxpayers need to be prepared for only a one-year freeze as bull-headed trustees have a history of protecting their deteriorating and population-losing turf.
It is a disgrace.