Opinion: Colton man wants Albany to take over costs of unfunded mandates
To the Editor:
The Office of the NYS Comptroller's newly-released Special Report: North Country Region Economic Profile, contains the bewildering assertion that "estimated median property tax bills for homeowners are relatively low throughout the Region, even in St. Lawrence and Clinton counties, where tax rates are relatively high compared to the statewide rate."Whatever taxes might be relatively speaking, for the homeowners of SLC, they are sky-high, period.
The report states that median household income in SLC in 2015 was $44,705. The median property tax bill in 2015 was $3,047. Add the property tax to a mortgage and heating bills, along with an 8% sales tax, and a household begins to feel the pinch of poverty.
The county's population growth for 2010-2016 is given at -1.6%. People are leaving the county because they cannot afford the exorbitant property taxes. They can cut back on expenses, but the only way to cut back on their property tax is to sell their home and move to another state where taxes are much lower.
Exorbitant property taxes cannot be magically made to disappear by writing in a report that such taxes are "relatively low throughout the Region."
If Albany wants to revitalize the North Country, the first step would be for the state to take over the costs of the unfunded mandates it imposes on the counties, costs which add substantially to the homeowner's insupportable tax burden. Town boards must take the initiative and work with county and state legislators to make this happen.