Press-Republican

Columns

February 2, 2014

Change is challenging

The governor is proposing that we maintain local tax caps, and to reduce taxes even further by offering rebates to taxpayers in areas that can construct level budgets and figure out ways to consolidate services.

If you have lived in New York for much of your life, you probably take high taxes for granted. However, if Clinton County was a state, the consolidated taxes levied against property here would qualify us for the highest property tax state in the union. Taxpayers are concerned, and the governor is responding.

Not only are New Yorkers highly taxed, but rural New York may well have more taxing jurisdictions than any other state. There are few avenues to reduce taxes when our municipal silos strenuously resist consolidation.

Humans love change — so long as it mandates change by others, not ourselves. Each of us has many ideas of what we want changed around us, but most of us are sufficiently comfortable that we would resist anything that threatens our own status quo.

What I worry most about is not our present, but our future. While I plan for my future, I also want to live in a community with a future. Even if I take care of my family’s needs, I still want to live in a region that can maintain the flow of young people to fix our cars, work at our hospitals, educate our young or even serve us at our local shops.

If we were to take the longer view, we recognize the need to have a sustainable economy and a vibrant workforce. Part of a sustainable economy is an affordable one. All else equal, a low-tax region with lots to offer will beat out a high-tax region with lots to offer in attracting the young people who replace those who leave or those who retire. Fiscal responsibility is a necessity.

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