I live in the town of Palatine, on a second-generation farm, where my husband and I raise sheep, market vegetables and a little girl. It's a deep-rooted community, where the road you live on might also be your last name, where the dots between people all connect up sooner rather than later.
The things we expect from government are the basics: education, infrastructure, public safety. We expect government to deliver these basics with efficiency and effectiveness. We believe that when government levies tax dollars, it ought to have a very good reason.
In our town — and in towns and cities all across New York — we've seen austerity cuts from the state that have slashed local services to the point at which government can't fulfill these basic functions.
That's the reason why so many local officials are opposed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal for a property tax freeze in exchange for local budget cuts in this year's budget.
My daughter's school district is the 412th poorest of 455 upstate districts, and it hurts her. For example, the late bus was eliminated: With both parents working, she can't participate in after-school activities.
At the same time, our community's property taxes are absolutely crushing, pushing some of us out of our homes. We're paying more and getting less.
Every election year, state politicians (mostly funded by wealthy donors, not local residents) vow to fix the problem by eliminating waste in government. It's a classic bait-and-switch. It hasn't worked before, and it won't work this year.
At the local level, we all work hard to cut budgets and save money for taxpayers.
But the root of the problem is that every year politicians give more and more tax breaks and subsidies to their corporate campaign donors — leaving the rest of us to take up the slack.
Exempting the deepest pockets from contributing to our communities is the fundamental reason we're seeing property taxes rise as schools and services crumble.
The governor's proposed property tax "freeze" is nothing more than another election-year gimmick that won't work. Cuomo's plan leaves us with already high property taxes and steadily declining critical services.
The disproportionate burden shouldered by property owners and costs for mandated programs like pre-kindergarten and corrections should be funded through the state. To pay for this shift, lawmakers should close loopholes and end state subsidies (now totaling over $7 billion per year, according to The Alliance for a Greater New York), so government can serve people, not big corporations and banks.
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