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Hevesi Warns of Massive Local Property Tax Increases

By Associated Press

Albany, NY – County property tax levies will increase by nearly one third by the end of this decade if the cost of the Medicaid program isn't checked, says state Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

Hevesi says property taxes would rise by an average of 6.5 percent a year to allow counties to pay for their share of the Medicaid program. His projections echo the concerns of county executives statewide, including Erie County's Joel Giambra.

Hevesi says Wyoming County could face annual tax-levy increases averaging 17 percent. Hesays that although a state plan offers some counties some relief, Medicaid costs are still a major burden for county governments in New York.

County executives want to have their share of the Medicaid program capped at 2003 levels and, ultimately, for the state to take over the counties' portion of the program.