A diverse coalition consisting of business groups from across the state convened in Albany Feb. 14 to voice their support for a two-percent property tax cap.
Representatives from Unshackle Upstate, The Business Council of New York State, Inc., National Federation of Independent Business, New York Farm Bureau and the New York State Association of Realtors highlighted the overwhelming burden that rising property taxes place on New York's business community and encouraged the members of the Assembly to work cooperatively to pass the tax cap bill that was advanced by Governor Cuomo and promptly passed by the Senate. The bill is being sponsored in the Assembly by Speaker Sheldon Silver.
"The burden of skyrocketing property taxes on New York's job creators hurts taxpayers across the state. Whether you're buying groceries or paying your electric bill, a portion of your money is gobbled-up by property taxes," said Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. "In order to strengthen our competitive edge, revive our struggling economy and stimulate private sector job growth, we must enact a two-percent property tax cap."
The coalition called attention to several reports that demonstrate the New York's overwhelming tax burden including a report from Ernst & Young.
According to the report's finding, 39 percent of all taxes paid by New York-based businesses in 2009 - totaling $21.9 billion - were property taxes.
Additional members of the coalition lending their voice in support of a two-percent property tax cap and passage of the tax cap bill by the Assembly are the: Buffalo Niagara Partnership; Greater Binghamton Chamber of Commerce; Rochester Business Alliance; North Country Chamber of Commerce in Plattsburgh; Manufacturers Association of Central New York; Westchester County Association; Independent Power Producers of New York; Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce; Chamber of Schenectady County; Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce; Cortland County Chamber of Commerce; Niagara USA Chamber; Empire State Forest Products Association and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier.
Heather Briccetti, acting-president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. said, "A real property tax cap is a vital reform to put New York on the road to economic recovery. We urge the Assembly to join with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Senate to enact this critical legislation. To put New Yorkers back to work, we must control government spending and start to lower taxes. The property tax cap is the first step in that direction."
Julie Suarez, director of public policy for New York Farm Bureau said, "The overwhelming burden of property taxes affects New York's farmers, regardless of profitability. It's one of the most regressive taxes for a land intensive family farm. A property tax cap, coupled with real mandate relief and cost control, will lead to increased reinvestment in farms and greater growth of New York food for New York families."
Mike Elmendorf, New York State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), New York's leading small business advocacy association, said, "The gravy train of reckless spending and runaway property taxes has derailed - badly - and the victims are New York's economy, taxpayers, homeowners and small businesses. New York's property taxes, an astounding 79 percent above the national average, are literally driving people from the businesses and homes they've spent their lives building. It could not be more clear that the present course is unsustainable, and that no less than the very economic survival of our state is on the line. The time is now for sweeping, fundamental reform of government in New York, starting with a real and hard cap on property taxes. The Assembly must join the Governor, Senate and most New Yorkers by supporting a property tax cap."
Duncan MacKenzie, CEO of the New York State Association of Realtors, said, "There is clear momentum building for badly needed property tax relief through both a tax cap and mandate reform. Lawmakers must not let this opportunity for comprehensive change to pass by unfulfilled. Ever rising property taxes threaten some homeowners to the point of possibly creating another wave of defaults and foreclosures, which in turn would be further bad news for New York State's struggling economic recovery."
Additional data from The Tax Foundation highlighted during the news conference confirms that rising property taxes are problematic in both Upstate and Downstate regions.
In 2009, when the burden from real estate taxes is expressed as percentage of median home value, 9 of the top 10 counties in the United States are located in Upstate New York. Additionally, when looking at median real estate taxes paid, 3 of the top 10 counties in the country are located in Downstate New York.
"From Hempstead or Hamburg, rising property taxes are forcing business owners to close their doors and lay off their employees. It's imperative that the members of the Assembly follow the Senate's lead and pass the tax cap," said Sampson.
Charts featuring data mentioned in this news release can be viewed here.
Sandy Parker, president and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance and a co-founder of Unshackle Upstate, said: "As head of the 2,000-member regional chamber of commerce, I hear first-hand from businesses about the impact New York's exorbitant property taxes have on their operations. They acknowledge that New York state has so much more to offer than other places in terms of abundant resources and work force talent. They want to stay here, but feel forced to leave for states where lower property taxes will reduce their operating costs. Meanwhile, those who opt to stay say these high taxes are curtailing their ability to grow, develop new products and services and create jobs. We simply cannot expect to revitalize our economy unless something is done about our taxes. So we need the Assembly to get behind this 2-percent property tax cap, and put New York back on the road to economic growth."
Unshackle Upstate is a bipartisan coalition representing a growing group of more than 70,000 employers with upwards of 1.5 million workers in every region of Upstate. The coalition's website, www.unshackleupstate.com, allows citizens to join the Unshackle Army and send messages to elected officials in Albany.