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Borrello On Overriding The Tax Cap
August 26, 2011 - Dunkirk OBSERVER
Posted by Nicholas L. Dean
The Chautauqua County Legislature will attempt to override the state's property tax cap this fall.
County officials have pretty much guaranteed that an override is the plan for passing the county's 2012 budget.
The issue was detailed recently in this article, which published Sunday, Aug. 21.
What follows is the full text of an e-mail sent to me by legislator George Borrello, R-Irving.
Borrello's comments did not make the Aug. 21 piece about the property tax cap. I'm posting his comments here in their entirety as they're really more of a commentary piece than something I wanted to chop up to include in my Aug. 21 article.
The summary which Borrello references at the start of his e-mail can be found online here.
From George Borrello
I thought you might find this interesting. It's a summary from the New York State Association of Counties on the tax cap. If you read just the executive summary you'll see some interesting facts that show what how bogus this idea really is.
First of all, limiting property tax increases to a 2% cap will total about $90 million state-wide based on a tax levy of $4.5 billion. However, increases in just unfunded state mandates to counties is estimated to be $279 million in 2012. So the State Legislature is capping tax increases and still spending money faster than any of us can make it.
They are so busy in Albany patting themselves on the back that they haven't had time to address unfunded mandates. Instead what they did was give the local governments the ability to override the cap. So, in the end, this is nothing more than an empty gesture that makes themselves look like they've done something for the overburdened taxpayers of our state.
What they've really done is shifted the blame to the local governments for raising taxes while taking credit for something that ultimately will have to be overridden at the local level. The end result accomplishes nothing for the taxpayers. They can say they passed a budget with no tax increase and still kept all of their special interest groups happy.
It's really a sham. It's half-baked pseudo-populism. We at the county level will be forced to override the tax cap just to meet the increase in state mandates alone. We will argue about it and there will be a lot of grand standing. But there's really no other choice not matter how much we cut from non-mandated services.
Let me summarize this tax cap and unfunded mandates with an analogy...
Let's say you and I go out for dinner. I order the most expensive steak on the menu. The most expensive bottle of wine, appetizers, dessert... the works. You, on the other hand, order just a salad and glass of water. At the end of the meal, when the check comes, I say to you "Nick, we are really watching our budget in the Borrello household. So, all I have to contribute to this bill is ten bucks." I give you the ten dollars and you have to pick up the rest of bill even though the vast majority of it is my extravagant meal.
Then, afterwards, I go around and I brag to everyone about how I got this fabulous meal and it only cost me ten bucks! To add insult to injury, I also criticize you for ordering the salad. "Did he really need a salad? Could have ordered a smaller salad? Nick really needs to get his spending under control."
That is pretty much what the state has done to the local governments with this tax cap and the continued increases in unfunded mandates. They have let the bloated, overpriced programs like Medicaid spiral out of control and have simply asked us to pick up the bill. It's really brilliant politicking on their part. They have made themselves look good without risking anything politically or challenging any of the status quo.
*Writer's Note: Man, I'm never going out to dinner with George Borrello. Although a nice filet and a bottle of wine do sound appealing.
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Legislator George Borrello, R-Irving