Bringing his to Mount Kisco, state Sen. Greg Ball stressed getting more help locally on fiscal issues.
While the newly enacted property tax cap, which limits the annual levy to the lesser of two percent or inflation, was not seen as perfect, Ball described it as bringing mandate relief to more prominence as an issue.
“We’re going to have to tweak this thing to get it right,” Ball said of the cap.
Still, Ball described the cap as providing relief for homeowners becoming overburdened.
Mayor Michael Cindrich urged there to be more attention paid at the state level for mandates such as having local governments continue to give full pay to employees awaiting word on disability compensation, as well as stormwater regulations for communities in New York City’s watershed.
Responding, Ball urged communication with his mandate advisory council. He also acknowledged, however, that some mandates “represent progress,” citing special education requirements for school districts that are above federal guidelines, despite cost concerns.
Describing a notable example of unfunded mandates, Trustee Anthony Markus pointed to state requirements for local governments to contribute to employee pensions. He also raised Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal for a new pension tier.
In response, Ball acknowledged recent volatility in annual contributions, and noted his support for legislation—it was vetoed by Cuomo—that would have allowed local entities to borrow money to cover their pension obligations.
“Promises that have been made, need to be kept,” Ball said of current pensions.
‘Raging Grannies’ Make Their Voices Heard
Folks at the meeting got a proverbial earful from a group at gatherings of Republican officials.
Three members of The Raging Grannies, a left-leaning group, broke into a chorus right after Ball’s talk wrapped up, with a song critical of his vote against same-sex marriage legalization in June (see attached video).
The Grannies have disagreements with Ball on a number of issues., including immigration, Indian Point and terrorism.
Referencing recent homeland security-related hearings Ball held with U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on Islamic extremist groups, member Sunny Armer felt they were unfairly directed.
He held hearings, the Croton-on-Hudson resident said, “to persecute Muslims.”
At one point in his talk with trustees, Ball discussed the status of Indian Point, and said that he opposed immediate closure, arguing it will mean higher electric bills, lost jobs and excess spent nuclear fuel. As a solution for the latter, Ball advocated recycling it.
Armer responded by saying that fuel recycling was unsafe.
“The longer you run the plant, the more spent fuel is produced,” she said.
Ball did, however, signal openness to replacing the plant, and described the matter as a homeland security issue in which there could be federal and state assistance.
Other Issues: Vets Assistance, MTA Tax
During his talk, Ball gave a run through of a number of issues that he has taken personal interest in.
On issues for military veterans, he advocated creating identification that gives visibility to people who endured combat injuries such as traumatic brain injury, as a way to let law enforcement know, citing a nearby incident in which a veteran was detained after an encounter with a police officer.
Ball also said he supports getting the state to utilize federal funding for establishing veterans' cemeteries, which passed in the state senate.
The state senator also reiterated his call for the repeal of the controversial MTA payroll tax, as well as a forensic audit of the agency. He hopes that there will be legislation for a phased repeal next year.
Ball also addressed legislation that he supports on topics such as animal abuse and battered women.