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Gov. Cuomo Sells Property Tax Cap In Westchester, But Residents Skeptical

PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- He's trying to put the cap on taxes.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blitzed the suburbs Thursday with ceremonial bill signings, but will his 2-percent property tax cap stick?

As CBS 2's Lou Young reports, not everyone is sure.

The governor strolled into suburbia telling homeowners he's brought them relief from crushing property tax bills -- a cap for annual increases he describes as historic.

"This is going to end the madness, finally, once and for all," Cuomo proudly stated.

The homeowners, themselves, are not so sure. The governor's hosts Thursday, who have an annual tax bill of $16,000, believe the jury is still out.

"Something has to happen. I don't know that this is the right answer, but I give him a lot of credit for trying something," Tara Klein said.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino was blunter, saying capping taxes without cutting state spending could be worse than what we have now.

"We're all forced to pay for the state's spending habits and if they don't cut their spending habits. Then we have to pay their bills and so this is going to be headline but no good story afterwards," Astorino said.

Here's an example of what the governor is shooting for: Westchester County collects about $558 million in property taxes a year but the vast majority of it, roughly 75 percent, involves costs it doesn't control – state-mandated costs.

The county controls one part; the state controls a bigger part, and the expected increases could easily bring them up against the cap. In other words, nobody is sure what will happen next year.

"The worry is that absent mandate relief, the costs that localities can't control may drive out the essential services that our residents expect and deserve," New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson said.

"From a homeowner's point of view this is full equation. The homeowner's taxes will be capped, period," Gov. Cuomo said.

He said Albany will have to catch up on the spending side next year and seems to believe the hard part is behind him.

School districts that feel confined by the tax cap can try to pierce it by holding special elections, but the law requires 60 percent of voters agree before the cap can be lifted.

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