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January 17, 2009 - John Stack
I have been a big backer of Paterson since he took office, and has had to make the tough decisions. But, I think he made a mistake about paying taxes on State owned land. His budget proposal is to cap taxes the State pays on State owned land at what the State paid in 2008. All this will do is shift the burden to the local taxpayers. Localities are going to all ready be struggling with cuts in State aid, and for towns that have significant taxable state owned land, this will be another burden.
There are a number of towns in The Park where State Owned land is at or above 50 percent of taxable value. In a town where State land makes up 50 percent of taxable value, if a town/school has to raise the levy 5%, because the State isn’t paying more than in 2008, everyone else in town will see a 10% increase! This of course is only a minimum of towns throughout the state, but the Adirondack Park will shoulder a very large burden.
The Suozzi Commission had a task to determine what to do about rising property taxes in New York. As school districts take the lion’s share of property taxes, one recommendation was mandate relief. This is where the State mandates a school district must supply some service or change some practice, which costs the district more money, but the state gives no additional aid for the mandate. We keep hearing from all of our representatives, such as Sen Little and Assemblywoman Sayward about the need for unfunded mandate reform. By capping State land payments, it is in effect a new unfunded mandate. It literally only saves the ‘State’ money, but moves that burden to the local taxpayers, meaning absolutely no money was saved!
What else does this mean for us Adirondackers? Well, Franklin, Hamilton and Essex hold probably the majority of the taxable state land in New York. We’ll feel it hardest. But, at least our legislatures and school boards are there to help us out – just look at the 4 percent raises given out recently to Essex County employees, Franklin County employees and Saranac Lake School District employees. Oh, wait, those jurisdictions that tax us for there existence just gave out unconscionable raises and we as taxpayers are going to pay – even more with the state cutting aid as well as SOL payments.
I can’t believe this will go through. I mean it might very well go through, but it is a terrible robbing Peter to pay Paul scheme.
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