There is a growing disconnect between the debate over taxes in Albany and Washington and the reality on the ground in county seats across the North Country.
The bottom line is that costs for government are spiraling upward, in part because the recession has sparked far more demand for crucial services — everything from housing assistant to heating and food aid.
Big league politicians have planted a flag on the high ground of No New Taxes. Which means that local politicians often have no choice but to pass along costs to the only taxpayers they can tap.
Unfortunately, property taxes often hit people who don’t have much actual cash. Seniors on fixed incomes, families who are land-rich and income-poor, locals who have inherited family camps on waterfront.
Last Friday, that reality came home in a big way when Franklin County legislators totted up a 20.42% property tax increase. And that’s after laying off more than a dozen people.
This from Jessica Collier at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise:
The budget features a definite reduction of 16 county jobs, with three to six additional ones that may be eliminated, county Manager Jim Feeley said at a Board of Legislators meeting Thursday.
Five of the eliminated positions are employees being laid off from the county nursing home: two certified nursing assistants, a dietary technician, a housekeeper and a launderer.
Because of reductions in aid from Albany, lawmakers were forced to boost overall property tax revenues by roughly $2 million, even though the overall Franklin County budget was down slightly.
One issue that gets raised a lot in these debates is the plague of unfunded mandates. I’ll be posting about that later today.
In the meantime, what do you think? Is this a reasonable price to pay, to help our neighbors with crucial services during hard times? Or an unsustainable tax burden? Or maybe both?