Good Government Means Local Control
Tom believes that local governments should have local autonomy wherever possible. New York state frequently subverts local autonomy in ways that increase tax people’s tax burdens such as PILOTS and unfunded mandates. This must stop.
New York state typically requires local governments to be responsible for significant tax burdens for projects that it determines to have a “public benefit”. Such projects are given “PILOTS” which are “payments in lieu of taxes”. These PILOTS are significantly lower than what other private entities would pay for similar commercial uses. This leaves taxpayers on the hook for this large revenue shortfall. Locally, we have seen several projects that are employing the use of PILOTS. This includes the wind turbine projects in Highbridge and Bluestone and the battery disposal plant in Endicott. These tax subsidies are particularly concerning when projects such as these contain potential environmental and health risks to the public. Any PILOTS granted to such projects should be similar to what the project would pay if it were fully taxable. Given the adverse tax consequences of PILOTS and the potential environmental damage that these projects pose, Tom wants the final approval for projects such as these to be decided upon by the local electorate in a referendum, not just a small group of elected officials or even unelected bureaucrats. Local politicians often face inherent conflicts of interest by receiving campaign contributions and other perks and promises from developers in return for favorable treatment during the review process. This prevents an objective appraisal of the merits of the project and creates outcomes that will harm the taxpayers and citizens where such corrupt bargains take place. Local referendums stop this sort of cronyism in its tracks.
Unfunded mandates are bankrupting our local communities. Anything mandated by Albany should be paid for by Albany. Unfunded mandates interfere with local autonomy and make it more difficult for communities to respond to residents’ needs. Unfunded mandates force our towns and cities to add to the already severe tax burden on hard-working people, furthering the unaffordability and folly of continuing to live in New York State, driving residents out. We need to embrace local solutions that communities can afford to implement.