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Gov. Andrew Cuomo presses for property tax-cap extension while visiting Nassau

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged state lawmakers to

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged state lawmakers to extend his property tax cap before the end of their session, at the Knights of Columbus in Seaford, on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo Wednesday urged state lawmakers to extend his property tax cap before the end of their session later this month, saying that without its renewal, "you'll see taxes go through the roof."

Appearing in Nassau County, where he signed the first tax cap into law in 2011, Cuomo said that in the most recent tax year, 98 percent of local school districts were in compliance.

"This 2-percent cap is changing the trajectory of the state," Cuomo, a Democrat, said at a Seaford Knights of Columbus Hall, where he was joined by Republican Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and other elected leaders.

"Finally, there's some control on the increases," Cuomo said.

The property tax cap -- a signature measure of Cuomo's first term -- doesn't expire until June 2016, but is linked in statute to New York City's rent-control laws, which are set to expire at the end of this month.

The State Senate's GOP majority wants to make the cap permanent.

But Assembly Democrats are opposed, citing the cap's impact on groups including teachers, whose unions are key supporters of Assembly Democrats and tax cap critics.

While no state leader has predicted that the tax cap will expire, exact terms and length of a renewal are being negotiated.

Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx), said the Democratic caucus is talking with Cuomo and Senate Republicans, and "we are trying to have three-way negotiations on improvements" to the cap.

Cuomo's office estimated that the average Nassau taxpayer saved $1,923 in the cap's first three years, due to a drop in the rate of annual tax increases, from 5.4 percent between 2000 and 2010, to 2.1 percent since.

Under the cap, governments generally can't raise tax levies by more than 2 percent or the inflation rate, whichever is lower, unless 60 percent of voters or lawmakers approve. Schools want more exemptions and a higher ceiling on hikes.

Michael Borges, executive director of the New York State Association of School Business Officials, said Wednesday in a letter to state leaders that having to meet the cap next year could lead to more teacher layoffs and education program cuts.

"It wasn't intended to deprive children of the opportunity to receive a sound, basic education," Borges said.

With John Hildebrand

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