continued Site 31 will not become operational as long as it is less costly to take the garbage to another regional landfill, which is my long range plan and strategy. I have sponsored legislation through the years to protect property values directly surrounding the landfill site and to compensate the town of Van Buren for lost property taxes when the county took over the 500-acre site. Under present guidelines, the site is not to be sold to anyone. I will keep a watchful eye to make certain it remains that way.
How will you work to reduce the tax burden on county residents?
Last year, the county sales tax formula was revised for sharing sales tax revenue with the towns, villages and schools causing a property tax increase in some towns. The legislature took $45 million out of the county executive’s budget to offset that increase. The county executive vetoed the revision and the veto was sustained, causing a 50 percent county property tax increase in the town of Van Buren.
The Van Buren Town Board took more than $800,000 of county sales tax money in cash rather than using it to offset property taxes as most towns do. This was responsible for the other 50 percent county property tax increase in Van Buren.
Last year, I sponsored legislation to stop the practice of advance step hires. The county executive had the authority to hire from Step A to Step G without legislative approval. That practice was to be used only in emergency circumstances and was costing taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Presently, all advance step hires must come before the county legislature for approval. There have been very few approvals since the implementation of that law.
During my 20 years as your legislator, I have sponsored several anti-tobacco resolutions including advertising, placement of the tobacco products in stores, raising the age to purchase, and the most prominent law was the Second Hand Smoke Law, which prohibits smoking in some public buildings and restaurants. The intent of these laws is to promote better health, to discourage our youth from using tobacco products, and to reduce the tremendous burden from Medicaid costs associated with the use of these products. Medicare costs exceed $600 million a year in Onondaga County alone, with $100 million coming out of property taxes. The long range effects of these laws will reduce the number of smokers, promote better health and decrease Medicaid costs to taxpayers by millions of dollars. Six months after passing our Second Hand Smoke Law, the NYS Legislature passed a similar law and several other states have followed.