$775,000 tax relief offered to Pawling residents.

15% of Town and Village budgets combined.

by Karen Kelley

New York State has been pushing local governments to share services with each other and consolidate any possible overlapping functions of Counties, Towns and Villages. They have increased incentives and continues to encourage New Yorkers to seek more efficient and less redundant governance.

Perhaps the most compelling of all the initiatives offered is the “Citizen Empowerment Tax Credit” (CETC) which provides funding for cities with a population of less than one million, towns, or villages that consolidate or dissolve. These tax credits provide an annual aid bonus equal to 15 percent of the newly combined local government’s tax levy. At least 70 percent of such amount must be used for direct relief to property taxpayers.

This tax credit is now written into NY State Law and promises tax relief directly to Pawling Taxpayers upon consolidation. This reduction in local taxes would take effect in 2022 and continue each year thereafter with a direct payment to Pawling by NY State each September.

New York State has the highest tax burden in the nation followed by Hawaii and Vermont. In 2009 the NY Senate decided to address this by targeting the many layers of government that are responsible for much of the elevated property tax burden.

In 2011 New York State government began layering in additional incentives to encourage voters to begin the consolidation process on their own through Voter Initiated Consolidation. This consolidation process is almost 18 months long from the gathering of signatures, public referendum, development of a final plan for consolidation and an optional second vote towards the end of the process. Several grants are available for the local governments to hire experts, facilitate elections and cover legal costs of creating a new consolidated government.

According to New York’s Department of State and the office managing the Local Government Efficiency (LGe) Program, The NY State Grant Gateway has halted processing grants due to COVID-19 and the strains on the state budget deficits. However the consolidation specific LGE program is expected to begin again directly through the Department of State offices in the next several months. The CETC does not need to be applied for, but instead an automatic payment to Pawling will be received annually.

Voters in Pawling will decide on Monday, November 30 if a consolidation process will continue.