To the editor:
As if enough has not been said, or surmised, about Gov. Cuomo's "Save the taxpayers" 2 percent tax cap, I'd like to add my 2 cents' worth.
The 2 percent is not carved in stone. The law reads, in part, "a 2 percent cap on the tax levy, or an amount equal to the rate of inflation, whichever is lower" (maybe not an exact quote, but pretty close). And it can be adjusted for such things as higher-than-normal retirement plan costs, payments for contracted capital construction costs, etc. - more adjustments than I can understand. The short version is that the cap will no doubt be closer to 1 percent than 2.
Now for the rebates, for which the governor has set aside one-and-a-half billion dollars. The rebate checks will go only to property owners who are enrolled in the STAR program and reside in an area where ALL levels of government - town boards, school boards, village boards, lighting, water, waste disposal, etc. etc. districts - must lower their tax levy by the adjusted cap amount AND present a three-year plan to increase efficiencies by 1 percent per year for the next three budget years. Such plans are to be submitted to the Department of Budget for approval.
Another point to be mentioned is that the cap affects the tax levy, not the tax rate. It is entirely possible that individual tax rates could actually go up due to such things as new construction, revaluation of assessments, etc.
Tom Leitz, the county manager, has figured that in Franklin County, the owner of a $100,000 (assessed value) property in an area where all these conditions are met will be receiving a rebate check in the amount of $9.11, and it will be considered income and is therefore taxable.
What the governor has apparently done is to look around at the counties that he sees on a daily basis - counties with large populations, traffic problems, big businesses, inflated real estate prices and higher property taxes - and decided that a "one size fits all" approach is the way to fix the state's high tax problem. There is no way that rules affecting a county, say Westchester, with median home values at $579,000 are going to be a fit for a county like Franklin, where the median home value is $74,000, the jobless rate is very high, and things like welfare costs are going through the roof.
The question here is: Are you willing to see your services eroded for a savings of $9.11 more or less?
Edward "Ned LeMieux
Town of Duane