No easy fix to age-old property tax problem, say forum participants

No easy fix to age-old property tax problem, say forum participants

Suozzi: “more grass roots organizing”

MARLBORO – About 100 people attended a property tax reform forum organized by Town of Marlborough officials.  For the most part, it was the same old issues and questions:  When is the state going to fix the problem, can the state takeover all school funding, what can we do to help?

Key presenter was Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, who chairs the Statewide Commission on Property Tax Relief.  He said there are three options:

  • Reduce expenses
  • Increase state aid
  • Increase property taxes.

Suozzi noted on average, New York State has the highest per pupil spending of any state in the nation – almost $19,000 per student, per year.  That translates into some of the highest property tax ratios.

Westchester, Nassau and Rockland rank 1, 3 and 6, in the nation, for the highest property taxes in dollar amounts.

The panel consisted of state legislators, a representative from the Ulster County Executive’s office, a member of Hudson Valley Property Tax Reform, and attorney David Little, of the New York School Board Association.  Little delivered perhaps the most blunt comment of the evening, comparing the school funding apparatus in New York State to a “bloated carcass”.

State Senator William Larkin, one of the panelists,
chats with Zimet, left, and BRC member
Bernetta Calderone

Democrat County Legislator Susan Zimet, who chairs the Ulster County Blue Ribbon commission on School Funding and Tax Reform, says maybe something will finally happen.

“We can’t study the issue anymore.  We can’t talk about it anymore.  We can’t put out fancy reports.  We need action; people need action.”

An Omnibus Tax Relief Bill drafted by a consortium, is finally attracting attention, says Zimet.

Fellow BRC member, Republican Legislator Richard Gerentine, says he has some hope they can finally overcome that omnipresent obstacle … politics:

“I think they realize how important this is to the taxpayers, not of Ulster County, of the whole state, of making this become a reality.  There again, politics becomes in the way of this.   It is not a Republican, Democratic, Independent or Conservative issue; it’s a New York State Taxpayer issue.”

Suozzi came away from the two-hour session encouraged. “I think there’s more grass roots organizing than there had been about six months ago, so that’s a good sign.  The more that happens, the more likely we’ll get results.”

The general consensus of the panelists was for citizens to “get involved”.

%d bloggers like this: