Collins' Constituents: Businesses Only

29 Nov


Erie County Executive Chris Collins’ spokesman Grant Loomis asks a non-rhetorical question:

Why should taxpayers subsidize the capital improvements of other taxpayers?

That question is asked in connection with home improvement tax relief legislation being considered in the county legislature. Ty Pennington would be proud.

Under the proposal, county government would delay taxing expensive additions — those worth $3,000 to $80,000 — that raise the taxable value of single-family and two-family homes.

So rather than taxing a $25,000 addition as soon as it goes on the tax rolls, the county would exempt the improvement from taxes in the first year. The county would then remove 20 percent of the exemption a year over the next five years, in effect taking six years to tax the addition at its full value.

In theory, the tax break would encourage investment in neighborhoods, especially in older homes found in Buffalo and its inner-ring suburbs. Other communities are considering similar abatements on their own property taxes.

Collins is against this legislation because, “Why should taxpayers subsidize the capital improvements of other taxpayers?” Yet coincidentally, Collins is in favor of PILOT programs and Empire Zone tax breaks to businesses, so his philosophical opposition to this idea, as set forth by his spokesguy, is (a) disingenuous at best; and/or (b) a blatant lie. (You pick).

So, if the tax abatement goes to big business, Collins is totally on board. If the tax abatement goes to people, he’s opposed. I extrapolate from this that Collins is opposed to the STAR rebate / property tax reduction program because it helps average homeowners and not, e.g., Volland Electric.

The curtain on this whole “running government like a business” charade is getting pulled back more and more each day.

And henceforth, when Collins attends a ribbon-cutting or (more likely) an announcement of something being built with the help of public subsidies or incentives, the question must be asked:

Why should taxpayers subsidize the capital improvements of other taxpayers?

6 Responses to “Collins' Constituents: Businesses Only”

  1. Jonathan Wellinton-Fidrych III November 30, 2009 at 12:53 pm #

    The obvious answer is that taxpayers should subsidize anything which benefits the extremely wealthy. After all, we are the leaders of the community and the movers and shakers who get things done in Western New York. Without us, you ignorant Bolsheviks would flounder about like beached whales and the area would go into a fifty year tailspin with businesses, jobs and people fleeing.

  2. Stan from OP November 30, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    I get the point, yes Chris Collins is for big business and is for tax breaks for them but not the homeowner. Truth is, do you think a tax break on any homeowner home improvement for the amount being discussed will be a deciding factor as to whether the improvement will be done or not? I don’t think so. This is another example of people spending too much time on things that don’t matter, and not enough time on real progress, like consolidation, reducing spending and job creation so the taxes can be reduced or go away due to increased revenue from a larger tax base.

  3. Jenny November 30, 2009 at 3:42 pm #

    You forgot choice (c) Collins is STUPID.

  4. Think, Son. Think! November 30, 2009 at 4:32 pm #

    Is chris collins, given his acceptance of business subsidies, hypocritical about this issue? yes, but that does not mean he isn’t right about this legislation, albeit for the wrong reasons. Stan from OP is right insofar as this deduction will do little to spur investments where none would previously happen. Furthermore, it will only serve to drive up the costs of home repairs, as well as (possibly) causing homeowners to overleverage themselves if taking out home loans to complete above mentioned repairs. In practice, the vast majority of these tax breaks will go to those who can afford an $80,000 addition to their house, and not those who are scrapping $2,000 together to weatherize before the winter starts. From a policy perspective, this legislation smells identical to the federal home mortgage interest deduction, THE example of a well meaning tax policy that, in practice, is actually extremely regressive. These tax deductions will come directly out of the county treasury. Don’t complain when county-run health centers are closed to make up the shortfall in annual revenue.

  5. down home girl November 30, 2009 at 11:07 pm #

    Hello Think,Son, Think! County run Health Clinics can never make up th difference in county revenue because those countyu run health clinics are run with federal grant dollars garnered specifically for the purpose of running health clinics. Collins is feeding all of us a bill of goods when he states he is closing clinics to save money. What he is doing is parcelling out county operations to his friends in the private or non for profits sectors. Catholic Charties got the WIC program because people are going to Indian-run casinos and not church- run bingo games. Chris has found a way to help the catholic churches by giving them previously run county initiatives. I will bet any of you Chris Collins is of the catholic faith.

    • Think, Son. Think! December 1, 2009 at 9:49 am #

      The operating costs are federal dollars, but the legacy costs are borne by the county. My point was that this tax deduction (benefiting those who can afford it) will reduce the county treasury at the expense of those lower on the socio-economic scale, and the shortfall will almost invariably be made up by cuts to social programing or cultural funding. Where the money is cut from is not the point, but rather that these cuts will be required at some point because the county balance will be drained by this deduction and will still have to come up with a large chunk of change to cover the mandated parts of the budget.

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