Colonie Town Board vote to back tax cap bill fails

Colonie Supervisor Paula Mahan voted against a resolution that would have authorized the endorsement of a state bill that would put a cap on school tax increases.

Her vote, cast at the Thursday, March 27, Town Board meeting, was supported by two other Democrats on the board, Nancy Hernandez and Bill Carl. Councilman Bob Becker, also a Democrat, was not at the meeting, but the resolution did not pass because it failed to get the majority of votes. The Town Board's three Republican members, Nicole Criscione-Szesnat, Brian Hogan and Tom With voted in support of the bill.

The New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act, A.8775, is sponsored by Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick, R,C,I-Smithtown, and would keep overall property taxes down by preventing school taxes from increasing more than 4 percent annually. Over five years, the bill estimates this could save taxpayers about $16 billion.

At Thursday's meeting, Criscione-Szesnat called the bill, one of the biggest issues facing young citizens of New York today.

Mahan said she had several concerns with the bill and was not ready to vote in favor of endorsing it until she learned more about it.

"I'd like to wait until we get results of the Governor's Commission," she said, referring to a statewide commission report to be released in upcoming weeks offering recommendations to towns and counties on steps to take in order to help taxpayers save money.

"In our area we've been hearing a lot about recession," she said. "School tax is the most Democratic tax we have, which is also a consideration for me."

Criscione-Szesnat said that by voting against the bill, the Democrats are indicating that they do not understand the severity of the property tax crisis in the town.

"I am especially disappointed that Supervisor Mahan, someone who ran on a platform of change, voted against our resolution. I don't believe that is the type of change voters had hoped for. Honestly, it seems like more of the same," she said.

In November, Democrats won their first majority on the Colonie Town Board with the election of Mahan, Hernandez, Carl and Becker. ""

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