NORWICH – An executive order passed last week by Governor David A. Paterson may provide the first steps toward real property tax relief, according to local officials.
Executive Order Number 17 provides guidelines for state agencies when issuing mandates. According to a press release from the governor’s office, “The executive order establishes guidelines for state agencies including submitting a full accounting of the fiscal impacts of the proposed legislation earlier in the process of developing bills, requires a local fiscal impact statement to accompany legislation sent to the legislature and requires agency review of existing regulations to determine potential ways to reduce the fiscal impact of existing mandates on local governments by Dec. 1.”
According to City of Norwich Finance Director William Roberts, in the past mandates were passed with no regard for where the funds were coming from. One recent example, he explained, is a mandate that all police departments perform electronic fingerprinting, a system that would cost the city a minimum of $35,000, plus the cost of annual maintenance.
“If the state agencies do these studies and find out that the mandates cause the typical municipality an undue burden, they can make the determination to delay or defer the implementation until a further determination is made about where the money is coming from,” Roberts said.
According to City of Norwich Mayor Joseph Maiurano, the New York Conference of Mayors keeps lists of the many unfunded mandates handed down each year. “The only thing that helps unfunded mandates is to fund them,” he said. Even then, the mayor explained things like annual maintenance costs are often not figured into the equation...