Friday, October 09, 2009

Its Still The Property Taxes, Stupid!

Nassau County Has 2nd Highest Property Tax Burden In The Region
[We've Even Got New Jersey Beat!]
Hey, we may be second (only to Westchester County), but we try harder, right?
Those property tax rates -- phony freezes by County and Town notwithstanding -- continue to climb, courtesy of unfunded State mandates on schools and municipalities, a dearth of aid to education from the State, and those pesky special taxing districts, each masquerading as local government, of the people, by the people, and for the people. And which people would that be?

Anyway, we digress.

The New York Times reports that which most of us already know -- "Property taxes are high around here in large part, of course, because property values are high. But there are several reasons why property taxes are higher here than in other costly parts of the country. Unlike California and Massachusetts, there are few, if any, longstanding brakes in place that kept property taxes down (and, in California, led to disastrous revenue shortages). Public employees unions are powerful and politically feared. And we’ve come to expect good services — top-rated schools, nearby police in little boutique towns — and have been willing to pay for them."

And this to say on the local property tax mess -- "The Nassau County executive, Thomas R. Suozzi, whose 'Fix Albany' mantra got him nowhere when he ran for governor against Eliot Spitzer in 2006 but looks pretty smart in retrospect, says that property taxes are inseparable from dysfunction in state government. He cites several reasons why property taxes are so high: unreasonable state mandates piled on local governments; income tax dollars inequitably distributed back to local governments; far too many local governments — more than 10,500 in New York — that need to be consolidated or eliminated; fraud and waste; and economic stagnation producing no expansion in the property tax base. You could throw in crippling Medicaid costs and unsustainable pension costs.

“'It’s the No. 1 issue,' he said. 'People have reached their breaking point. But we still have a long way to go in connecting the dots between dysfunction in state government and high property taxes.'"

Breaking point? We passed that breaking point years ago.

We voted down school budgets -- senselessly and wrongfully -- and that gave us no relief. Even in austerity came tax increases.

We championed legislation in Albany to create a process to consolidate or eliminate inefficient local government. The law has yet to go into effect, and query as to what its impact will be on the bottom line.

We've tried, with rather wimpish efforts, and zero results, to "Fix Albany." Yoo hoo. Its still broken!

We've even proposed a local, progressive income tax as a viable alternative to the regressive school property tax, so that we pay based on what we earn, not on the artificial value of property we own.

No, that was poo pooed too.

So, here we are, stuck with the status quo, digging deeper into our near-empty pockets each year to pay for schools that aren't nearly as great as they were once claimed to be, for services that are either wasteful or unnecessary (such a 6 garbage collection days per week), and for way too much government, capable only, it would seem, of finding new ways to tax us -- through fees, fares, and just plain old taxes (they don't even try to disguise them anymore) -- so that the vicious cycle of spend, spend, spend can continue.

It has always been our mindset at The Community Alliance that the status quo is never good enough.
Now, that status quo is choking us to death in Nassau County, be it on the front of planning, zoning, visioning, or that old standby that seemed to work so very well lo these many years, taxing the populace to debt.


  1. The solution to our tax problem, although controversial, would be for Nassau County, or at least the Town of Hempstead, to become the 6th boro.
    Mayor Bloomberg would take over our bloated bureaucracies and immediately incorporate efficiency into them. The Lighthouse project would break ground tomorrow as well as economic development in our blighted downtowns.
    Who knows, we might actually attract new business and young people to move here. It's time for Long Islanders to take a serious look at the transformation that has taken place with our neighbors to the west.
    If you can't beat 'em (and we can't), join 'em!

  2. Did anyone read the article in Newsday on our superintendent's compensation? How can the City attract a superintendent of the caliber of Joel Klein (he's the attorney who brought an antitrust action against Microsoft and won) for $250K a year with 1 million students, and Long Island school districts need these tremendous salaries to attract "quality" superintendents. In my opinion, $100K salary would be sufficient for these superintendents. In fact, I know a lot of laid-off Wall Street executives with advanced degrees that would love a nice cushy job as superintendent.

  3. How about today's newsday?

    the superintendent of comsewogue is retiring with a $739,000 payout. thats right $739K.

    and we fools are paying for it.

    we're already the 6th boro-all the problems and none of the advantages.

    my advice to everyone is GHO-get the hell out on LI if you can.To pay all this $$ and get next to nothing in return for these obscene taxes is f---n bulls---t. its even more expensive in connecticut but most locales there have a great quality of life-way better than anything here.

  4. how about today's newsday-the superintendent of comssewogue is retiring with a $739,000 payout. thats right $739K and we fools are paying for it.

    nassau is already the 6th boro-with all the problems and none of the advantages.

    im leaving as soon as i can-for another state- and i hope that anyone who has any brains will do the same.

  5. These problems are only compounded by the number of illegal apartments. Regretably, these houses are only taxed as 1 family dwellings and the additional tax burden is shifted to the rest of us.

    Kate Murray has had since 2003 to put together some type of plan to combat illegal housing. Yet, in 6 years, the problem has only gotten worse. Who really believes Kate will have the problem corrected after 8 years?