Bellone Makes Savings Pitch

A Suffolk County effort mandated by the state is underway with the goal of reducing property taxes or eliminating tax increases by getting municipalities in the county to coordinate or eliminate duplicated services and to make purchases together for better prices.

To help develop a plan to be submitted to the County Legislature, County Executive Steve Bellone has set up a series of community meetings to solicit ideas and public opinion.

A meeting will be held at East Hampton Town Hall at 11 a.m. on Monday. It will be followed by a meeting that night at 6 at Southampton Town Hall, and others in Babylon and Huntington on Tuesday and July 18.

The effort is required under a tax savings initiative included by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in the recently approved state budget. It requires each county across the state to empanel a committee comprising town supervisors and village mayors that will identify, propose, and implement programs to “save taxpayers money through shared, coordinated, and more efficient services between local governments within the county.”

The state has required savings plans to be submitted to county legislatures by Aug. 1, with public hearings and a vote on the plans by mid-September.

Counties that create successful plans may be eligible for one-time state grants matching the net amount of savings achieved by implementing their plans.

According to a state press release, property taxes are the largest tax burden for New York taxpayers. The typical taxpayer, it says, pays 2.5 times more in property taxes than in income taxes.

A state website contains information about the program.