Cuomo pushes again to take home-rule from local municipalities, this time with taxation plans for energy projects

Posted 24 March 2021 at 12:04 pm


The controversies surrounding Governor Cuomo should give us all pause as we contemplate the impacts of one-person rule over the great people of New York State.

Since Mr. Cuomo’s initial election to the governorship in 2010, he has focused the power of government and the administrative state on a full frontal attack on local home rule. The right of home rule is enshrined as the jewel of Article 9 of the New York State Constitution and, while bestowed by the State, has remained sacrosanct since its promulgation… until Governor Cuomo’s administration.

In 2011, Governor Cuomo began his assault on home rule with the enactment of NYS Article 10 of the Public Service Law. This administrative law defined a new, streamlined wind and solar renewable energy project siting process, it preempted local permitting and approval procedures, but it left local land use restrictions intact, subject to a case-by-case consideration whether restrictions were unreasonably burdensome.

Last year, when faced with continued stiff opposition to Article 10 from rural NY towns statewide, Governor Cuomo went a step farther. The Governor included a last-minute amendment to his budget proposal called Executive Law Section 94-c, which replaces Article 10 and tries to make all local land use restrictions unreasonably burdensome. Still, rural municipalities across NY fought back against this potentially unconstitutional attack on home rule.

This year, unhappy with hundreds of feisty rural towns who insist on local control of land use and property tax assessments, Governor Cuomo is again attacking our right to decide for ourselves how best to contribute to a more sustainable future.

He is proposing, in yet another likely unconstitutional action, elimination of local control of taxation of industrial wind, solar and battery storage projects and a takeover of payments-in-lieu-of-taxes by Albany. This new attack is in the form of adding Section 575-b to the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL) as a budget maneuver.

The State’s carbon reduction goals must be met by working with rural municipalities, by giving them options for actions that respect community character and environment – not by creating renewable developer fiefdoms in small towns.

I call on the NY State Senate and Assembly to immediately rescind Executive Law 94-c, and to immediately remove the proposal in the 2022 New York State Budget Bill that adds RPTL 575-b.

IT’S OUR TOWN, Governor Cuomo, not your kingdom.

Jim Simon

Supervisor, Town of Yates