The Examiner

New Castle Officials Create Town Mandate Relief Committee

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The New Castle Town Board formed a new Mandate Relief Committee Tuesday night, one of the first towns to take the step in hopes of relieving financial state-imposed burdens.

The four-member committee will be chaired by Judy McGrath, a longtime mandate relief advocate who has been vocal at Chappaqua Board of Education meetings on the issue.

Although school districts have been more in the forefront regarding mandate relief, assistance from municipalities is welcome and needed, McGrath said.

“I appreciated that this town board thinks that it is important that the town has its own mandate relief committee and that we try to make some effort for what we can do on our own behalf,” she said.

Joining her on the committee will be town residents Warren Gottlieb, Neil Skolnick and Enid Leikin. James McCauley will serve as an alternate.

McGrath said some of the committee’s main tasks will include identifying mandates; identifying which mandates affect New Castle the most; proposing needed changes, identifying the officials or entities that have the authority to make changes; and developing strategies.

The committee also plans to reach out to other municipalities to try and make changes. Among the most active local officials regarding mandate relief is Mount Pleasant Supervisor Joan Maybury, McGrath said.

“In an ideal world, what would be fantastic is if we come up with a template of what we thought the changes that are needed and we get other towns to sign on,” McGrath said.

Joining forces with other towns is an important strategy in order to make progress on mandate relief, Supervisor Robert Greenstein said.

Councilwoman Elise Kessler Mottel said one of the key issues she would like to see addressed is for towns to be able to exclude capital projects from counting toward the tax cap. While school districts are allowed to do that, that restriction is forcing municipalities to scrap much-needed improvements, she said.

Greenstein agreed with Mottel, saying perhaps the most significant change that can occur on the capital projects issue is when the construction industry isn’t getting sufficient work.

“Construction companies are going to start losing business and their workers are going to start losing their jobs and that’s going to get the attention of Albany,” he said. “As sad as it is, that’s the reality of the situation. When the construction industry is hit in the pocketbook, that’ll be a good ally for us.”

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