Monday, March 03, 2008

The Long March

From Property Taxes To Special Districts, Time Marches On [And With It, Our Money]

In just a few short weeks, Spring officially arrives. In less than a week, in fact, we usher in that long-awaited passage into spring as Daylight Savings Time goes into effect (2 AM on Sunday, March 9].

And yet, even as we gleefully say so long to this relatively mild Winter -- weatherwise -- that annual breath of fresh air, the presumptive season of renewal, brings with it the same old problems we faced last year, the year before that, and the year before the year before.

Special taxing districts dotting the landscape, safe harbors of political patronage that sponge off of our tax dollars. Property taxes, going nowhere but up, serving as political foils and the stuff of commission-based follies, fueled, in part, by the proliferation of special district feifdoms, but more so, by school districts bound to burgeoning contractual obligations, suffocated by unfunded mandates, and crippled by far too little aid from state coffers, and little more than small talk from those who are obligated by the state constitution to provide that free education to all of New York's children.

The New York State Commission On Property Tax Relief holds its first public hearing this week -- Wednesday, March 5th, 9 AM to 12 Noon, William H. Rogers Legislative Office Building, North County Complex, Building #20, Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppague.

Did someone say Will Rogers?

A public hearing on a monumental imperative, taking place in the middle of the day, in the middle of nowhere.

Could it be that the public, though invited, isn't really the main show here? A mere window dressing of a hearing, as perhaps those to come across New York State will also be?

After all, what is the public's 2-cents worth, on top of the millions we pay annually in property taxes?

Of course, even if you can't attend the Hauppague hearing, or any other forum as may be stealthily scheduled on short, if not sadly inconspicuous notice (surely, there is little on the Commission's website to hang a hat on), you can -- and should -- still offer comment to the Commission on ways to cut the property tax.

Click HERE to submit your ideas to the Commission. Not that they will pay any heed, as if minds were not already made up as to property tax caps, which have proven themselves detrimental to education, and of limited value in keeping down taxes.

Still, its your opportunity -- and perhaps the only chance you'll get -- to have your say, so, speak now, or forever hold your hand on your wallet.

Ah yes, spring is in the air. The NYS Commission on Local Government Efficiency & Competitiveness is expected to have its official report out in April. The Commission's preliminary recommendations have, more or less, unfolded as one would predict.

Will the Commission and the State Legislature -- or better put, will we, as taxpayers and voters -- "summon the political will to face the reality that 4,200 taxing jurisdictions are simply too many, too expensive and too burdensome," as Governor Spitzer opined in this year's State of the State Address?

The Commission on Property Tax Relief will posit its intial findings in May. Maybe there will actually be something relevant posted on the Commission's website by then.

Spring. A time of hope, of renewal, when the earth comes to life signaling a fresh beginning, a new start.


Something tells us its going to be a long, hot summer, even now, as March Madness and the springing ahead of the clocks are just barely at hand.

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