Hometown Happenings: How Government Should Work

Something interesting happened over the last few months in Albany. And it’s actually going to help Clarkstown taxpayers. Hard to believe, but it’s true.

A bill made its way through legislative committees and the state legislature—and arrived on Governor Cuomo’s desk. Governor Cuomo signed it and then I, along with the Town Board, adopted it at a special town board meeting before the August 1, 2017 statutory deadline.

The best part of this legislation is that it’s only for Clarkstown and it’s going to stabilize the shift in our property tax rates. That means stability for property taxpayers.

Each year, the Town must adopt something called “adjusted base proportions,” which is simply the state’s calculation used to determine the amount of tax each “class” (homeowners, commercial, etc.) has to pay. Each year, these proportions could shift between homeowners and commercial properties, and those shifts can cause larger than normal tax increases for a particular class. In some other Rockland towns, the shift is greater than 13% this year!

Clarkstown homeowners already pay too much in property taxes, which is why I was proud to cut property taxes for the first time in 30 years. But these unpredictable shifts in tax rates negatively impact the town’s budget and lead to uncertainty for our homeowners and businesses.

Along with our new Clarkstown Assessor Scott Shedler, I contacted our state representatives Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski and Senator David Carlucci, who helped us draft a bill that would limit the shifts between classes to no more than 1% and successfully shepherd it through the legislative process. Clarkstown is the only town in Rockland County to have had the foresight to accomplish this and I cannot thank them enough for their herculean efforts in getting this bill passed and sent to the governor.

It then landed on Governor Cuomo’s desk who, with one stroke of his pen, helped us bring stability to reckless shifts in tax rates. And I thank Governor Cuomo for standing up for all of us and signing this bill into law.

The last piece of this puzzle was having the Town Board adopt the legislation via resolution before August 1, which we did earlier this week. And I thank my fellow board members for making themselves readily available to do right by the people of Clarkstown.

While we cannot prevent a shift in tax rates, we have limited the amount of that shift to no more than 1%. And that’s pretty good work, giving stability and certainty to all property owners.

This process was long and unnoticed, but extremely important to all of us. And what I’m most proud of is that politics never played a part. This was about the people of Clarkstown. And whether it was a democrat governor or a republican supervisor—every elected official put the people of Clarkstown ahead of politics and provided a level of certainty for our hardworking taxpayers.

And that’s how government should always work.