The following is a Campaign OpEd by Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, candidate for Putnam County Executive
Politicians like to talk tough about taxes and spending, but they rarely offer real solutions to
reduce the tax burden or shrink the size of government. Some politicians simply vote “no” on
large costly budgets and consider that symbolic statement enough, but it’s not.
My record on taxes is clear. As Assemblyman, I voted “no” on every proposed tax increase that
came before me. Every “no” vote I made on any of New York State’s notoriously out-of-control
budgets was accompanied by real proposed solutions to help fix our state and provide genuine
relief to overtaxed New Yorkers. Reducing the tax burden is a priority that should apply to
every level of government, and county government is no exception.
Here are some ideas I support and will bring to county government as your next Putnam County
● Spend within your means and allocate your resources to your priorities. You probably do this at home, and we should do it in county government
Freeze pay raises for elected officials– including the county executive.
● In addition to following the state-mandated tax cap, we should work to on new discretionary county spending.
● Say NO to new costly tax diversion proposals that would siphon away county resources
and simply make it easier for other local governments to spend more taxpayer money.
● Eliminate the sales tax for basic clothing and footwear for all people, including low
income & middle class families who are disproportionately affected by the tax. This idea
first came to me after our current County Executive MaryEllen Odell sought state
legislative approval to create a “sales tax holiday” in the county. The state of New York’s
Department of Tax & Finance rejected the county’s proposal for a one day or week long
holiday on all county sales tax, but made it clear there was an opportunity for county governments to opt into eliminating sales tax for these specific items (clothing and footwear under $110) year-round. Dutchess County just opted in this year, and Putnam County should build a plan to do so as well when it has the financial stability and means to do so.
● Introduce a Taxpayers Bill Of Rights that ensures the following:
⮚ Any proposed tax rate increase will be discussed in an open and transparent manner
allowing the public to be fully informed;
⮚ Any proposed tax rate increase will include extended public comment periods
beyond the minimum that is required by state law;
⮚ Any tax rate increase should be passed by a ⅔ majority vote (or supermajority) of
the County Legislature.
● Additionally, our county government should continue to actively pursue opportunities
to review, consolidate & centralize county resources and programs in order to save
money and make services more efficient and cost-effective.
● Lastly, we should continue to partner with other local governments and municipalities
to revisit new opportunities for shared services to help reduce the cost of services to
If a candidate or elected official wants to talk seriously about taxes, then that conversation
must also address spending. Otherwise, their actions will either increase our debt obligation or
simply redistribute our residents’ earned income. Neither addresses the root cause of high
In the end, if our county government has more money than it needs, we should find a way to
give it back to taxpayers.
Throughout my time in the State Assembly, I consistently fought Albany’s tax and spend
mindset and advocated for opportunities to provide genuine tax relief for our hardworking
neighbors and families.
Rest assured, as your next Putnam County Executive I’ll bring that same determination and
commitment to county government to control spending, reign in taxes, and ensure Putnam
County residents receive the level of services they deserve
Learn more about me, my plans and vision at Byrne4Putnam.com