Senior Citizens - As your County Legislator, I would request that the County Legislature consider enacting legislation to improve the Property Tax Exemption eligibility for senior citizens. Seniors living in Chemung County are paying more than their fair share for property taxes. Today, seniors with income above $19,200 do not qualify for the senior income tax exemption (Real Property Tax Law 467), which places an undo tax burden on many. I will work to raise the income limit, which will cut the tax bills for more seniors. I will also ask the City of Elmira to review its income standards, currently at $22,200, to ease the tax burden for more seniors.
Veterans - As your County Legislator, I would request that the County Legislature consider enacting legislation granting a "Cold War Veterans Property Tax Exemption". This exemption is permitted by local option and is available for those veterans that served during the cold war period. The cold war period is defined as September 2, 1945-December 26, 1991. The exemption may provide a 10% or 15% reduction in taxable assessed valuation. I will ask the County Legislature to direct the County Veterans Office to conduct a study of the potential recipients and a resulting county impact. This information could then be shared with the City of Elmira for consideration as well.
Crime & Public Safety - As your County Legislator, I will ensure that the District Attorney's office is sufficiently funded and staffed to make certain that all tools are available to fight crime in our community and hold those responsible. I am a strong supporter of public safety and law enforcement agencies that do the difficult work of keeping the community safe. I also support efforts to analyze the impact of consolidating and streamlining certain aspects of public safety agencies, in order to improve services, save money, lower taxes and make public safety more efficient. Our area law enforcement agencies do a very good job given their limited financial resources and staffing. I believe consolidation of certain public safety departments could produce a more diverse and multi-talented department with enhanced benefits to the community.
Sales Tax - As your County Legislator, I would request that the sales tax formula be reviewed with the goal of creating a more equitable distribution. In 2014, the Chemung County Legislature approved a plan that changed how the county, City of Elmira and all other towns and villages share sales tax revenue. That plan increased the county's share and cut it for all the rest. This forced municipalities to provide the same services residents demand, with less revenue to do so. Some municipalities had adequate reserves to continue business as usual, while others looked again for alternatives, such as shared services, to close the budget gap. The City of Elmira was particularly hard hit by this unilateral change by the County Legislature. Although the county has provided financial assistance to the city through various shared services, the city continues to struggle financially and economically. Current economic development projects will eventually improve the city's tax base, but tax exemptions attached to those projects will delay any substantial relief for years.
Term Limits - I believe term limits for County Legislators and the County Executive are in the best interest of our community, and as your Legislator I will propose them. With an eight or twelve year limit (2 or 3 terms) in place, I believe that our county elected representatives will be more responsive to their constituents. By limiting the number of terms, the democratic process in our community will be reinvigorated, and I believe more candidates will be likely to run for the purpose of serving the people.
Communication With Residents - As your County Legislator, I pledge to work with residents of the 9th District and with city elected officials who represent the 9th District. I believe we must work together to arrive at common sense solutions, and that also applies to neighboring municipalities. There are no islands in Chemung County. As issues and problems affect the City of Elmira, those same issues and problems will affect towns and villages, and Chemung County government operations as well. To chart a new course, fully accepting and engaging in the process of collaborative planning, discourse and implementation will move our region forward.