WHY AREN'T WE OFFERED REAL PROPERTY TAX RELIEF?
Unless there is an immediate upsurge in wisdom,
Governor-elect Cuomo and the legislature appears to be poised to make a two
percent property tax cap the law of New York.
Combined with a large state budget gap that is bound to yield a reduction
in state aid to education, a property tax cap will ineluctably lead to
substantial school program cuts and school employee layoffs.
A two percent lid on property tax increases will barely allow most school
districts to meet their increasing costs for pensions, health care and other
built in expenditures. Despite the
known damage to school districts that such caps have caused in state like
California, our governor elect seems hell-bent to demagogue this issue,
attempting to out Republican the Republicans in their contempt for government
services, services which the public is quick to scorn until they donít have
them anymore. The saddest part of
all this nonsense is that a property tax cap of the kind being discussed
doesnít help those who are truly unable to meet their ever rising property tax
bills. It just caps the increase.
Thatís a big help to some one who is unable to pay his current bill.
Real property tax relief would reduce the property taxes of those that
truly need help. Serious political
leaders would be talking to the public about a property tax cap tied to family
income. That is, if a familyís
property taxes grew beyond a certain percentage of their income, their property
taxes would be capped with the relief being provided from a credit against their
state income taxes. In one bill
introduced in the New York State Assembly, there is a sliding income scale, with
family income of $50,000 and under having their property taxes capped at three
percent, with those earning $200,000
at seven percent. No doubt that
there would be a heated debate as to the percentage of family income at which
the cap should be triggered, but, after that political battle, those in serious
need of property tax relief would have it. If
we really want to help those who canít shoulder any more property taxes,
thatís what we would do. Of course this so-called circuit breaker tax cap will
not be popular with those who really donít need relief but who just resent
paying taxes. Such people are not
When presented with the circuit breaker kind of tax cap as an option in
focus groups, the public supports the greater fairness it provides.
Our politicians unfortunately donít often present with this option.
Neither do they inform the citizens what can happen to their schools when
the ability when revenues can no longer support existing programs.
Instead, people like Governor-elect Cuomo attempt to wage a phony war
against the dedicated public servants of this state instead of offering them
more complex alternatives, but alternatives that would maintain the quality of
their communities. Doesnít he
think weíre smart enough to locate our own self-interest?
I urge every PCT member, every citizen, to resist the siren call demagogues like Cuomo. Property taxes are a problem that can be fixed without destroying public services and without making war on the people who educate our kids. Get in touch with the members of the legislature today. Tell them you want real property tax relief for the truly needy. Tell them to support a circuit breaker property tax cap.
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