Democrats: ‘Tax cap?! We don’t need no stinking tax cap!’
Schenectady County Democratic leaders are fighting their own Democratic governor.
Cuomo passed a 2 percent cap on all local governments in his effort to make New York more competitive and keep local property taxes from soaring. But the wise men in Schenectady County know better.
On Oct. 1, county legislators voted to override the governor’s cap, and the county manager Kathleen Rooney issued a 2013 budget that would raise taxes by 7.49 percent. It did not take even one minute for the higher tax budget to emerge, as she knew ahead of time the Democrats would get their way.
Note that Gov. Cuomo recently reported that the tax cap held the average tax hike by school districts and town and county governments to a remarkably low 2 percent — less than half the annual average for the past 10 years of 5.3 percent. The vast majority of local governments chose to live within the cap rather than exceed it by super-majority vote.
For school districts, the compliance rate was an impressive 95 percent. And among village, town and county governments — which can bust the cap more easily, by a 60 percent vote of their governing board — 81 percent stayed in line.
The New York Daily News reported, “All of this means that the tax cap has forced fiscal discipline on local politicians. They’re paring down payrolls, cutting back on overtime, spending down slush funds. They even got their public employee unions to agree to contract concessions to avoid layoffs — all necessary steps in these tough economic times.” Of course, this was not true in our county. These spenders still need more money.
At the public hearing on Sept. 28, the vast majority of folks speaking were strongly opposed to going over the cap. But of course, as usual, our elected politicians do what they want.
I hope that Cuomo raps these Schenectady Democrats on their collective wrists. Further, the voters should vote the high-spending politicians out of office.
Montgomery County needs charter change
As Second Ward supervisor, my observations of Montgomery County government have led me to believe that we need to pass the proposed county charter.
But don’t take my word for it. Prior to appointing a charter commission, the Board of Supervisors conducted an anonymous survey of our department heads to ask them their candid opinions on county government. They were blunt in their criticism of the current form.
“County government is not working,” wrote one department head. “The current system does not work,” said another. A third said we have “an inefficient, slow-responding government ... plagued with parochialism.”
They complained that having to answer to 15 supervisors is like having “a ship with 15 captains,” and that even minor issues take months to solve.
The department heads also suggested the solution — a county executive and a legislature. In fact, 85 percent of the department heads who responded said some form of executive is needed to right the ship. And even though we did not specifically ask, over half volunteered that we should switch to a legislature.
County employees work tirelessly day in and day out, and I hope we will trust their judgment and adopt the charter.
Don’t expect too much from Biden, either
Barack Obama’s performance in the first presidential debate was much like his first four years in office. He had nothing.
Concerning the upcoming vice-presidential debate, I recall that in 2008, Joe Biden got his clock cleaned by Sarah Palin.
Expect the same from Paul Ryan.
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