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Is there Enough Mandate Relief With the Tax Cap?

Actions taken are seen as insufficient by some area officials.

The , which limits annual increases to the lesser of 2 percent or inflation - contains several provisions that relief municipalities and school districts relief from state mandates. The question, however, is whether or not they go far enough.

For example, reacting to the passage of the cap, Mount Kisco trustees were critical of the fact that it primarily includes minor changes, such as relaxing salary level requirements for local police chiefs and being able to piggyback on federal contracts.

In his personal opinion, Mayor Michael Cindrich felt that the relief is "a good step” but added "obviously it needs a little more work.” When asked for examples, Cindrich cited employee pension changes - an often discussed item in the area - as an example.

State Sen. Greg Ball (R-Patterson), whose district includes Mount Kisco, our Capitol DisPatch writer, "People also have to understand that this legislation creates the framework for doing away with unfunded mandates comprehensively, and we will hopefully do exactly that in the coming years,” Ball said.

State Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Port Chester), whose district includes New Castle, voted for the cap despite her opposition because it was coupled with other legislation, according to a recent Patch story on the matter. However, she warned that it could have a financial drain on school districts.

"This bill is also going to quickly increase educational inequalities which are based on income and zip code," she to for our Capitol DisPatch feature.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, at a ceremony last week in Pleasantville,said "we're working to do even more to decrease the burden."

One key difference, with or without more mandate relief, could be in how municipalities fare versus school districts. The cap allows for 60 percent of village trustees or town board members to override the cap. In the cases of Mount Kisco and New Castle, which have five members, votes of just three each would be needed. The current budgets in both jurisdictions passed unanimously.

Meanwhile, school districts will have to get 60-percent supermajorities from voters in order to override the cap, a tougher process.

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