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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Legislators focused on Sandy relief in 2013
(Page 2 of 2)

Legislator Howard Kopel, a Republican from Lawrence, said that work on the sewage treatment plant would be a top priority. “I want to make sure it is reconstructed,” he said. “The problem that happened was a tragedy, but sometimes there are opportunities in these cases, and I want to make sure it gets done right.”

Kopel added that he would also like to see more work done on county redistricting, and that there are still too many disputes over property tax assessments. He said that county taxes are higher than they should be, largely because of school taxes.

“I think there has been some good progress in terms of the [County Executive Ed] Mangano administration having settled a great majority of property assessment disputes in an early fashion,” Kopel said, “but I’d really love to see that there aren’t nearly as many disputes.”

Immediate monetary relief for his district in the aftermath of the storm is the “first and foremost” goal for State Assemblyman Brian Curran, a Republican from Lynbrook, though mandate relief for school districts and municipalities is also a pressing issue, he said.

“Mandate relief would help [school districts and municipalities] deal with the tax cap,” Curran said. “I am a huge proponent of placing a cap on the mandates coming out of Albany, or a freeze.”

Curran pointed out that the Senate and Assembly can pass legislation with simple majorities, and said he would like to see higher-value mandates require the approval of a supermajority.

The Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law, which covers public-sector contract negotiations, is an example of an unfair mandate, Curran said. The amendment prohibits public employers from altering the provisions of an expired labor agreement until a new agreement is reached. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced that the Triborough Amendment would not be altered, Curran said, although, he added, he believes that other mandates may be reviewed.

“They have a history of telling the districts and municipalities what to do without giving them money to do it,” he said of state lawmakers. “I believe it’s extremely likely that there will be different forms of mandate relief that come out of Albany.”

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