Tag Archives: property tax

The Buffalo Tea Party: Blame the Poor

10 Oct
  • John Q Taxpayer <garjanb@msn.com> Oct 09 09:16AM -0700 ^
  • Erie County / Buffalo New York 2011 the party for the poor is over.
  • Here we are; after 134 years of taxpayer subsidized “life’ for the
  • poor, we have reached the end. Erie County New York where welfare
  • started in 1877, today 100% of property taxes collected are required
  • to pay for Medicaid (health care for the poor). The county now runs
  • all other services on sales tax revenue. The poor have run this county
  • into the abyss. Erie County once the proud home of a steel industry,
  • thousands of blue collar jobs, and most notable the genesis of the
  • electric power generation industry, sits upon the trash heap of
  • failed civilizations of the past.
  • We watched as the political fools of all stripes steered this once
  • great, beacon of light, into the darkness of socialism. Under the
  • euphoria of compassion Erie County political fools chanted, the
  • Marxist voodoo poison of “From each according to his ability, to each
  • according to his needs” Then these collective political fools invited
  • every feeble, lazy, ignorant, breeder from all over the world to come
  • here for some of that other people’s money.
  • We the taxpayers watched in terror while our hard earned money was
  • wasted on the lowest that society had to offer. “Why didn’t you
  • people speak up” an outsider says, “why this was robbery”. Yes it is
  • but,,, in the beginning it was such a small amount, we were so rich,
  • prosperous, and they said “be your brother’s keeper” the poor would
  • starve without your money, how could you wealthy taxpayers be so
  • cruel, it’s for the children, you know the children defenseless
  • children………….oh the poor say, is it that simple, I just hide my
  • laziness behind the children…… really that simple… just have more
  • babies and you will give me more money…… “From each (taxpayer you big
  • governmental fools will take the fruits of their labor) according to
  • his ability, to each, (me the poor) according to my (children’s)
  • needs.
  • I guess it is fitting that where the social welfare state started it
  • should find its demise. The taxpayers who had vision in the future are
  • long gone, to anywhere else, who could blame them. They now sit with
  • the conformation that the decision to flee Erie County was an
  • excellent choice. They visit friends and family here and behold the
  • decay caused by political fools past and present.
  • As political fools of today try to “fix’ the problem and balance the
  • budget, do they remember the Paul Revere’s of the past, saying “this
  • is not going to end well”, “the ship of Erie County is sinking, pull
  • in the gang planks and don’t let anymore on the boat or we will all
  • sink in the sea of red ink”, “we cannot afford to take care of all the
  • poor in the world”, but it is for the children……
  • So reader which path do we take? Soon the poor will consume 100% of
  • all tax revenues. More people will leave; housing values will fall
  • because taxes are too high, property taxes will fall because of the
  • falling house values. Taxes will have to be raised to keep the poor in
  • their demanded lifestyles, children will be born, the children…….
  • Or do the deaf political fools do what was called for decades ago and
  • reduce the burden on the taxpayers by cutting alms to the poor? After
  • all it is time the poor who created this mess, let them help fix it.
  • Will the current political fools have the strength to hold their
  • ground when the poor riot in the streets? Oh did I say a bad word? It
  • is a four letter word. SHHHHHHHHH JQT, do not say that word. What
  • readers are you still hiding from that word, isn’t that word the
  • reason we have been paying all those taxes to the poor? Like the
  • mafia protection money. The 1960’s when welfare exploded, riots in the
  • streets, pay us or die? Remember? If not look it up.
  • Am I making you uncomfortable, are you squirming in your chair?
  • OH John shut up.
  • Tax the rich more, take their money give it to the poor so I will be
  • safe…… just say it is for the children
  • John Q Taxpayer

Government Shouldn’t Tell You Who to Love, or Who to Marry

23 Jun

And that line was uttered by a Republican.  See how proponents for marriage equality appeal to fairness, equality, and love:

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Here is an ad issued by the leading national lobbying organization against marriage equality. It speaks for itself with fear and falsity.

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A vote in the State Senate is expected before the end of the week, although nothing is set in stone. The Senate will work out the massive reform bill being referred to as the “big ugly”, dealing with mandate relief, a property tax cap, and rent control issues before taking up (possibly) same sex marriage.  Shocking that raising the income threshold for rent control from $175k to $300k is holding up a bill to make a class of New Yorkers no longer be second-class citizens, but that’s why you never want to actually pay attention to any legislature, ever, anywhere.

Learning Massachusetts’ Lessons

6 Feb
Massachusetts coat of arms.png

We Could Learn a Thing or Two

This is an extraordinarily significant article. Massachusetts, a Northeast liberal bastion if ever there was one, taxes its people far, far less than New York. The Buffalo News’ Tom Precious likens the commonwealth’s Proposition 2 1/2 to Cuomo’s current tax-cap proposal.

How has that shaken things out in the 30 years since Massachusetts property taxes have been limited in growth?

“I can’t remember the last time I talked about anyone’s property taxes,” said Carl Bradford, a retired financial planner whose large colonial home sits a couple miles from the New York border. His property tax bill is at least a third less than that of a comparable home across the border.

Bradford looked a bit confused when asked if property taxes ever made him think about retiring elsewhere.

“It’s never occurred to me,” Bradford said as he cleaned snow off a neighbor’s car one recent day.

His house in western Massachusetts — a mostly rural area but a cultural mecca, especially in the summertime — is worth nearly $600,000. His tax bill is about $4,500.

Just 45 minutes away, in the Albany suburbs, the owner of a house worth half as much is likely to pay nearly twice as much in property taxes.

We can talk about our culturals, preservation of old buildings, and a sense of place all day and night, but the bottom line is that people won’t come here, participate in our economy, and enable us to do all of those wonderful things until and unless the political and taxation climate in New York is fundamentally altered.  Luckily, we’ve just elected a governor who not only promised to do that, but is actually doing so, and has the political capital to get it accomplished.

But how has Massachusetts compensated?  Have services been reduced to something resembling Alabama or New Hampshire?  Do they have a high sales tax?  Nope. They changed their culture.  They adapted.  They learned.

Critics say it reduced services, especially in the early years, in such areas as public education before the state stepped in during the early 1990s with more money for school districts.

But Massachusetts also has undergone a tax attitude change.

Soon after the limit was imposed, more fire agencies and schools merged. Some villages got rid of their local police departments. By the end of the 1990s, county governments — which cannot impose their own separate sales tax — were all but abolished, except for providing a few services such as running jails. Unlike New York, where property owners can receive separate bills for county, municipal and school taxes, Massachusetts residents receive a single bill.

The limit has affected other taxation.

In 1980, Massachusetts had the nation’s second highest state and local tax burden, only slightly behind New York.

By 2008, Massachusetts was number 23 — at $3,600 per capita.

By comparison, New York, at $4,850 per capita, ranked second and was waging a pitched battle against New Jersey for first place, according to U.S. Census data compiled by the Tax Foundation.

New York has the sixth highest sales taxes, while Massachusetts is number 31.

Let’s learn from others’ successes, not repeat our own failure.

Six Sigma This

28 Jan

Could there ever have been a costlier county budget process more fraught with intransigence and stupidity? Giambra’s borrow & spend and reliance on tobacco money and other one-shots seems almost comfortably predictable compared to this carnival show.

During the court battle in December, Collins went ahead and printed property tax bills although the dispute had not been resolved. This necessitated yet another re-printing after Judge Michalek rolled back most of Collins’ hoped-for tax hike. (Hoped-for because it would have enabled him to make the legislature look bad). So, two printing runs, and it now turns out that many of the tax bills that were sent out were incorrect.

Last Friday, Lackawanna Mayor Norm Polanski called Comptroller Mark Poloncarz to inform him that, based on the previous year’s bills, there was an incorrect and higher charge for Lackawanna. Poloncarz’s office investigated and determined that,

mistakes were made by the Department of Real Property Tax Services “(Real Property”) in establishing the tax warrants for the property tax bills for 2009. That mistake resulted in incorrect individual bills being produced for property owners in the impacted cities and towns.

The Comptroller’s Office determined that for some reason, Real Property incorrectly charged 25 of the 28 towns/cities in Erie County on their 2009 tax warrants for the community college chargeback amount. The Comptroller’s Office notes that the Director of Real Property Tax Services has already accepted responsibility for the mistake.

So new tax bills need to be printed – and we get to pay for it – for the affected municipalities. The mistake appears to be based on incorrect community college chargeback figures. The chart of municipalities is viewable here.

The Failboat continues to list.

Thursday “Collins Budget” Open Thread

16 Oct

If you have no job and/or all the time in the world, here’s a copy (.pdf) of the proposed 2009 Erie County budget that Chris Collins released yesterday.

The budget contains a 3.6% increase in property taxes, and cuts out funding to Vive la Casa and Meals on Wheels, to name a few.

With the hatchet being applied to certain services and a tax hike still being proposal, what hast Six Sigma wrought?

Collins has said his biggest challenge was closing a multi-million dollar budget gap created by such rising costs as fuel, health benefits, and asphalt. He said despite Six Sigma savings and cut-backs there was still not enough money to create a balanced budget without a tax increase.

Collins said he hopes to spend $50 million per year for the next four years on major capital projects across Erie County. He said major road and bridge improvements are needed and the county can’t afford to cutback in that area.

“It’s an appropriate expenditure to keep the quality of life vibrant in our community and to create a nice atmosphere for folks to come visit,” Collins said. “The fifty million dollars compares to past years that ranged from thirty-eight to fifty million.”

Road and bridge improvements are basic infrastructure – not something that contributes to our quality of life or a nice atmosphere. I can’t recall the last time someone lauded the way of life in Western New York for the phenomenal roads. I can just imagine a prospective Buffalo n00b saying, “Hey, the taxes are sky high and getting higher, and the libraries and cultural institutions are underfunded, but gosh darn Goodrich Road is smooth like glass.”

This, however, is the kind of stuff that is inexcusable given the prospect of a tax hike:

A $27,000 dollar bump for the Deputy Commissioner in the Division of Youth Services.

More than $21,000 dollars for the Social Services Commissioner.

An $11,000 dollar raise for the Budget Director and $10,000 dollars for the Health Commissioner.

County Executive Chris Collins says, “I did give out 2, 3 raises. I will defend them as those individuals as being deserving of an increase and me needing to do that to make sure they stay.”

Comptroller Mark Poloncarz says, “At the time he’s asking the taxpayers of Erie County to pay more, you would think this would have been an austerity budget on its face value but it really isn’t.”

Poloncarz says the biggest increase is indefensible. The Director of Information and Support Services was making $86,511 dollars. That position goes away and a new Chief Information Officer replaces it. That position pays $134,173 dollars.

Poloncarz says, “All they did was change the title, but by doing that, they’re creating a new job grade and as a result giving an almost $50,000 dollar raise. That’s almost unheard of. That person would be one of the highest paid people in Erie County.”

Well, in Erie County government, anyway. I never thought people went into government jobs because of how lucrative they were, and government jobs don’t need to be that competitive with the private sector because, frankly, the benefits are usually much better – easier hours, holidays left and right, pension & other benefits. Government work has its own attraction not to mention the fact that one’s motivation to take a high-level county position should also be, at least in part, a desire to be a public servant rather than personal enrichment.

But raises aren’t the only thing. Collins can cut money to culturals – which actually do contribute to our quality of life – but he’ll create new pinheaded management positions:

Collins is creating some new positions, too. There’s a new Assistant Commissioner of Administration in Social Services making $87,000 and a new Deputy Commissioner of Health making $85,000 dollars.

Collins says, “We’re restructuring that department and bringing in a business level manager to oversee business operations there.”

At least he’s not Assistant to the Commissioner of Administration in Social Services /David Brent & Michael Scott

Operating government like a business shouldn’t mean rewarding your loyal employees with raises or creating new $87,000 jobs. In Erie County, it should mean making do with less and trying to cut the tax burden – not raising it. Just imagine if Collins had run on a “big raises for management and property tax hike” platform. I doubt the CE race in 2007 would have been such a rout. Six Sigma is supposed to maximize those efficiencies, identify and eliminate waste. Collins ran to lower taxes, identifying our tax burden as part of what holds us back. So what gives? Instead, Collins is busy making bizarre, inappropriate budgetary and personnel decisions in very tight times indeed.

I don’t get it.

(PS – to the person who inevitably comments “Keane wouldn’t have been any better”, that’s 30,000 miles beside the point. KTHX).

Property Tax Cap for New York

18 Jun

Via Capitol Confidential, comes this video of a news conference that Governor David Paterson held yesterday with Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and various taxpayer activists.

The Suozzi Commission recently concluded that, among other things, a property/school tax cap is necessary to help ease New Yorkers’ local tax burden, which is significantly higher than the national average. Although opposed vehemently by exactly whom you’d expect, the vast majority of New Yorkers support it. Suozzi reminded Paterson of that fact in a humorous fashion as the two of them essentially declared political war on opponents.

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Suozzi Commission Report on Property Tax Cap

3 Jun

From Politics on the Hudson:

[T]he state Commission on Property Tax Reform, headed by Nassau County executive Thomas Suozzi, is recommending a school property-tax cap of 4 percent annual growth, tying property taxes to incomes (called a circuit breaker) and relieving schools of state and local mandates.

“There are only three options to address the ever increasing cost burden of the New York State education system: 1) decrease expenses (or at least decrease the rate of growth), 2) increase state aid, or 3) increase property taxes,” the report reads.

“These options involve hard choices, but this Commission concludes that, regardless of any other factors, it must be a priority to limit property tax increases above a capped amount.”

The entire – yet preliminary – report is here (.pdf).

It’s 112 pages long, so no I haven’t read the whole thing yet. But this stood out within the first few pages:

High property taxes have the most negative impact on low and moderate income working families, seniors on fixed incomes, and small business owners, who must shoulder this burden regardless of their ability to pay. Whether your concern is decreasing education costs, or increasing education spending, or addressing inequities in school funding, or improving programs, virtually all agree the answer cannot be to continue to increase property taxes at the current rate. The rate of increase in property taxes over recent years is unsustainable, and simply unfair to those who cannot afford to pay.

and

Expenses are high. New York schools outside of New York City spend more per student than any state in the nation – an estimated $18,768 in 2008-20091. New York’s per student spending is more than 50 percent above the national average. New York is a proud state with a progressive history and a social compact devoted to improving the quality of life for all New Yorkers. Generations of New York’s leaders, committed to maintaining its status as a national model of social responsibility, have adopted laws and regulations that require local school districts and local governments to provide certain functions in certain ways. The unintended consequence is government that is very expensive. The thorny challenge is to help school districts and other local
governments reduce these expenses, while remaining faithful to our social compact.

State aid as a percentage of total cost is below the national average. It must be noted that New York State spends a great deal on public education, well above the national average. In fact, the State has dramatically increased spending over the past several years and intends to do even more over the next several years, which the Commission applauds. However, the State’s contribution represents, as a percentage of the total cost, only 43 percent, which is below the national average of 47 percent.

In addition to the property tax cap on the rate of growth and the “STAR Circuit Breaker”, which ties STAR property tax relief to one’s ability to pay, the commission suggests changing state mandates that help drive up the cost of education throughout the state, including salaries, pension, and health care costs.

Take a look at the report and report your thoughts in comments. This might be one of the most significant reform efforts in the state in decades. Is it enough? Is it a good start? Will it help?

Good? That it’s being considered at all, and some solutions are being proposed. Bad? I don’t really know. I’m mostly concerned that it’s a Spongebob Band-Aid being placed over a gaping wound.