ALBANY Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday will unveil a new campaign for a property-tax freeze in New York and will release a new website, video and email drive to build support among lawmakers.
The campaign, "No Excuses," will push Cuomo's effort to put a two-year freeze on property taxes if local governments stay within the property-tax cap and, in year two, commit to consolidating services.
The tax freeze would cost about $1 billion a year, but would save homeowners an estimated $350 a year on their property-tax bill. The campaign is billed as, "We Capped Them, Now Let's Cut Them."
The website -- www.CutPropertyTaxes.ny.gov -- will go live Wednesday morning.
"High property taxes have been the number one burden on New York's families and businesses," Cuomo said in a statement obtained by Gannett's Albany Bureau.
Cuomo said the state implemented a property-tax cap in 2011, but the state needs to find ways to cut property taxes, not just slow the growth.
He said New York has 10,500 local governments, and they need to find ways to consolidate services. He said New York's tax structure should be more amenable to residents and businesses.
"I understand the issue. I understand the fear. Stay where you are because we are going to address it because, by the way, where you are is one of the most attractive places on the globe, living in the state of New York," Cuomo said Tuesday on the Fox Business Network.
Westchester County pays the highest property taxes in the nation, an average of nearly $10,000 a year. Upstate counties, including Monroe, pay among the highest property taxes compared to home values in the country.
"Right after I took office we capped property taxes to stop skyrocketing hikes that were driving people from this state. Now we need to cut property taxes and we need your help to do it," Cuomo said.
The effort is part of the final push by Cuomo before the Legislature votes on a state budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which starts April 1. The proposal was part of Cuomo's $2 billion tax-relief package introduced in his spending plan Jan. 21.
The website allows residents to email their lawmakers, download fliers about the proposal and sign up for email updates. It also includes a 90-second video with residents and business owners imploring lawmakers to support the plan.
The Legislature has been largely receptive to the proposal, but there has been criticism among some Democrats lawmakers, local governments and unions.
A statewide coalition of advocacy groups said Monday that the property-tax freeze would give relief to wealthy families while hurting schools and local governments.
"The more you look at this budget, and in particular, the more you look at these tax cut packages, the less appealing they are," Ron Deutsch, executive director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, a labor-backed group.
Under the tax freeze, the rebate – which would come in a check this fall -- would be the difference between keeping property taxes flat and the increase under the property-tax cap, which this year is less than 2 percent.
In year two, in order for residents to get the tax rebates, local governments and schools would need to stay under the cap and develop a plan to consolidate and streamline services to cut the tax levy by 1 percent by 2017.
Cuomo's office has estimated that by 2015 the average rebate would be $200 upstate and $580 in the New York City suburbs. In Westchester County, the rebate check would average at least $800.
Overall, 2.8 million households would get a check. It would be for households with incomes less than $500,000.
Critics said that households with $500,000 in income are wealthy homeowners, and the tax breaks should be more targeted to the middle class.
Cuomo does have a plan after the two-year freeze to tie property taxes to household incomes, called a circuit breaker. The circuit breaker would average about $500 a year per home and would be for households that earn less than $200,000 a year.