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June 14, 2008 - 7:52am

D&C story makes it sound like Legislature is Do-Nothingers when it comes to property tax relief

posted by Howard B. Owens in legislature, taxes, steve hawley, property tax.

Here's a gloomy story to start of your Saturday with: Don't expect property tax relief soon.

The impression left by the D&C story is that the state legislature is dissecting the issue into particle detail rather than just dealing with the basic issue: Property taxes are too high.

All sides have expressed a desire to do something about property taxes, but the way to get there, like the path to so many goals in Albany, is clouded.

A property tax cap, proposed by a state commission put together by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, has won the support of Gov. David Paterson. But state lawmakers, including those who represent Monroe County, are not convinced Paterson's proposal is the answer.

Back in the 1970s, when Californians got fed up with the state Legislature's wishy-washy, spineless approach to property tax relief, they passed Jarvis-Gann, better known as Proposition 13. 

While the transition to new ways of funding and operating schools and government hasn't always been easy for California, property taxes are a lot lower and everything still operates just fine.  Maybe there needs to be a voter revolt in New York, cause it's sure sounding like the Legislature wants to sit on its hands.

Here's Steve Hawley's reply:

"I'm not sure we should be focusing exclusively on the school tax," said Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, R-Batavia, who was a member of the Genesee Valley Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) before he was elected to the Legislature.

Hawley suggested exploring different property tax rates based on income and family situation, not strictly home value, and noted that government spending is the root of the problem.

"A reasonable solution is to stop trying to be all things to all people," he said.

Certainly, reducing waste in government and the size of government is a good place to start, but the idea that the government would A) develop an even more complex tax scheme (different rates based on family size and income?); and, B) start meddling in the structure of New York families doesn't sound very Republican-like.

Maybe Hawley can contact us or leave a comment and try to explain better what he's talking about, because this sound bite sounds more scary than helpful.

David Lazik
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typical hawley response, to blame all our problems on government. as usual, his simplistic & naive talking points are furnished free of charge by the radical right wing new york state conservative party & fundamentalist evangelicals who conspire to remove the separation of church & state from our constitution. it's no surprise to me that he proposes to raise taxes on those who can least afford it, while enthusiastically supporting the bush-cheney tax cuts for the very rich while ignoring & our bloating deficit. just examine & analayze his voting record in Albany, instead of blindly idolizing him as many residents of our district do. his recent unfair & ill-informed attacks on our new govenor lead me to believe the right wing lunatic fringe may be grooming him to be one of their attack dogs. btw, the pataki years did next to nothing to address waste in government.
John Roach
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Mr. Lazik sounds like a very bitter person, who has no real idea what to do, so he strikes out. Wahsington has nothing to do with NY, and he knows it. He's just giving us the tax and spend talking points for this Novemeber's election. Not one of his left leaning members in Albany has come up with a solution yet.
David Lazik
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the statement that the economic policies of the federal government in washington have nothing to do with the economic realities of the state of ny is both absurd and ill-informed. name calling with slogans like "tax & spend liberal" & "bitter" do little to alleviate the harm of the misguided economic policies, pork barrel earmarks & corporate welfare of 8 years of cheney-bush & 12 years of pataki in albany. they have devastated the economy of upstate ny as our young people who we so generously educate move away in droves because of lack of employment opportunities & economic crises. interesting that their "tax cuts" only include the wealthy, while the needs of middle class & impoverished citizens are ignored(e.g. universal health care which they call erroneously "socialim", another one of their deceptive "buzz" words that they use to distract voters from the real issues at hand).
John Roach
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Where Mr. liberal, will you get the money for all of your ideas? Tax the rich sounds good, but when you try your ideas at the state level, the rich move over the state lines and take business with them. And don't lie and say it doesn't happen. In addition, even if you did raise taxes to where they use to be in NY, you still don't have enough money. You didn't before and will not again. The only place you can get enough money to fund all your ideas is from the middle class. High taxes are the main reason business does do not move into WNY. We have to fight hard just to keep jobs we have now here. How many business would come here if we didn't have special economic zones and tax breaks? And don't give us the line business must pay more. Business never pay, they just raise prices, and we pay more. Note: If you are in favor or not in favor of universal health care, that's ok. You can make an arguement either way. But it is still "socialism". You take money away from one group to give it to another, becuase you decided how much is fair for somebody to earn. Another note: For all your rant, you still have not said what should be done. No talking points, what is YOUR plan?
Wayne Speed
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Calm down guys. The style of rhetoric between the two of you solves nothing. So you disagree on the direction of government - good for both of you. The ability to disagree is given clearly in our constitution. I suppose we can exercise that right any way we decide to use it but if the purpose is to persuade others toward our own point of view, name calling and insults aren't going to accomplish anything. Mr. Lazik -- I am one of those "conservative, fundamentalist Christians". Whatever my political and religious beliefs, I still have a right to be involved in the political process, just as you do. I don't want to remove "separation of church and state" from the constitution. It isn't there to begin with! If you can find that term in that document, please quote it here so that we can all read it for ourselves. But please quote it accurately. Mr. Roach -- if you want to defend the current government that is fine with me. I voted for the President twice myself. But that doesn't mean that I agree with every decision and action his administration has taken. For instance; in time of war (pretty expensive war) what are we doing cutting taxes? If this country decides to go to war - we ought to pay the price for it. If we aren't willing to pay the price, then we shouldn't go to war. This country is flat broke! The dollar is suffering against other currencies so we print more money and send out tax rebates that we don't have and can't afford. An action that will further weaken the dollar but may buy us a little time before we have to pay for fiscal foolishness.
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As a faithful Christian and a Democrat with (generally) progressive views and a political science/law student I feel like I can add something to this dialog. Firstly, there is separation of church and state, the constitution says that the worship or free exercise of religion cannot be approached on. That being said, that doesn't mean that we stop acknowledging God as part of our government, it just means that we interpret our faith in God in an interfaith sense, I respect all faiths (and those who practice no faith at all) and have no doubt that they have every right to worship or not worship and the government should respect and defend that right. But, I have no doubt that when I say the pledge of allegiance I'm placing our nations faith in God, and I always try to live by biblical principles, including in politics (no easy task). Pretending that were a nation of no faith, or a nation of only one faith is absolutely ridiculous. I don't agree with the administration on many many issues, I am very much pro-environment, pro-universal health care (sensibly though) and pro-education. I also believe that we can achieve all of these noble progressive goals without making the appearance that were going to tax people through the roof. I believe that we should readjust the tax code to make sure that individuals are paying a fair tax RATE and then roll back the tax cuts for the top 1 percent and then make investing and doing business in the US easier to strengthen the middle class, its not soaking the rich, its making sure that a CEO pays the same tax rate as his secretary. I also know that Health Care and its skyrocketing costs is one of the main reasons that businesses have trouble operating in the US, and in this area, I believe that a responsible government negotiated but still privately insured universal health care plan is the best way to bring down costs, insure everyone and not have enormous costs. I also believe that we shouldn't be spending any money unless we have money to pay for it, we should institute pay as you go budgeting, meaning that we shouldn't spend any money unless we find a way to make up for it with other revenue or spending costs. If that means we can't accomplish our goals because it will put my generation in the fiscal tank, fine. That also means we have to root out fraud in our social welfare and entitlement programs, no one should be receiving help that is abusing that help. That being said, to Mr. Lazik, my progressive friend, the chastising "Evangelical Christians" doesn't help, I think that we should be reaching out to try to work with people of all faith persuasions and try to find common ground. Only through finding common ground can we make America a better place to live.
John Roach
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Don't get me wrong. I think electing Bush was a big mistake and he has done very little right. I do agree with his tax cut, but that is about all. But, Bush is no conservative either. FACT: After the tax cut, the amount of taxes collected by the IRS increased. FACT: Bush and the congress increased spending more than what was coming in after the tax cut. That was beyond stupid and they wasted it on bridges that go no place, on corn based fuel that drove up the price of food and did nothing to cut oil use, along with other things. You are right about the tax rebate also. It was a stupid liberal idea to make us feel good. We even had to get the money from China! Our kids will have to repay it and you have people running around saying it should have been more! They even gave a "tax rebate" to people you didn't pay any taxes. I am not trying to get anyone to agree with me. But if Mr. Lazik lashs out on Mr. Hawley, who I support, I want to know his solutions in detail.
David Lazik
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george pataki had had 12 year reign in which to lower business taxes. he didn't. as for your tax the rich comment, why did they get cheney-bush tax breaks & not the rest of our citizens? bush only cut taxes for the very wealthy. i never said business needed to be taxed more so stop trying to put words in my mouth. how can universal health insurace be considered socialism when the services are provided by private hmo's? where is your logic? interesting how right wing supply side fanatics like to play bogeyman with the "s" word (as well as the "l' word) when they have no ground to stand on and can only resort to name calling. as for your branding me "mr. liberal" to distract readers with emotionalism from the real issues at hand, i'm proud to a progressive in the tradition of franklin d. roosevelt & john f. kennedy. i'm sure progressive true republicans like abe lincoln, teddy roosevelt, barber conable & dwight eisenhower would turn over in their graves if they knew how their party has been hijacked by the "trickle down economics" crowd & bigoted religious fanatics a la jerry falwell, john hagee, pat robertson, dobson, phylis schafly, ann coulter, michael savage, rush limbaugh, michelle malkin, pat buchanan, gary bauer, rupert murdoch, etc. it's time for the republican party in new york stae to move back to the center where it belongs. your political philosophy may play well in mississippi & alabama, but genesee county voters deserve better. a one party system run by ultra-conservatives & the corporate agriculture lobby is not in the best interest of genesee county voters. as for funding progressive ideas, we can start by taking control of the with the notorious pentagon cost overuns & corporate welfare.
David Lazik
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my apologies wayne. i meant to say "radical" fundamentalist christians - the ones who try to shove their unique interpretation of christianity down the throats of other christians. no disrespect was meant to you & your religious beliefs. i was raised with an excellent liberal catholic education in batavia, both at st. anthony school & notre dame as well as st' john fisher college. as you know, catholics do not teach literal biblical interpretation & unbridled absolutism. the concepts of the common good, logic, scientific knowlege & social & economic justice are important in catholic teachings. we were taught to think & reason, not to blindly accept what is spoon fed to us. btw wayne, the first amendment to the constitution states "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting free exercise thereof".
John Roach
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Mr. Lazik, why do you refuse to answer my question? What is your plan? Don’t you have one? Point: former governor George Pataki was no conservative. He hid tax cuts by raising fees and borrowing against the future. And the liberals in both the State Senate and Assembly went along with him. They spent more to get reelected and it worked Point: John F, Kennedy was the first modern president to lower the marginal tax, and he had a good economy. His trickle down economics worked, or didn’t you know that? Point: You hate religious people, why? You state your are Catholic, and I went to Catholic grade school and High School also. But we were never taught to attack another religion like you do, even if we didn't like it. Point: We all got a tax break. Why did you lie about that? True, it was not as much as I would have wanted, but I got one and do not want to give it back. The percentage was the same for everyone. Simple math tells you the richer got more, but it was all the same percentage. What you wanted was the "rich" to get a smaller percentage to make you feel better. Point: Universal health coverage by private HMO’s? What if they don’t want to do it? They have not so far, so what you would do is mandate it. When you force somebody to give money to another group, because you think they have too much and the other doesn’t, that is socialism. How much can a person have before you decide it is not fair? Point: If you want to see how badly the government will run health care, look at the VA Point: Why do Canadians come here for medical care, when they have universal health care? Point: Congress is now run by liberals. The pork is as great, or greater, than it was under the Republicans. Point: You rant, but have no plan. You distort facts to make it sound good, but facts are facts and yours are weak. Point: This could go on and on. Your tone is bitter and your anti religious rant is questionable. You are not somebody who can lay out in detail his complaint and give your reasoned solution. Prove me wrong and try doing it. Point: I am a registered Democrat
Wayne Speed
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I agree that George Pataki was no conservative - not by a long stretch! Having agreed on that, can you tell me why the Conservative Party of NY endorsed him and continued to endorse him on each of his election campaigns?
David Lazik
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Mr. Roach, ideas aside why do you refuse to conduct our debate in a courteous, accurate & civil manner? Given your refusal to do so, you give me no choice but to refuse to engage you further on these issues.
John Roach
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Since you refuse to give YOUR solutions and given your attacks on other people's religions, I agree to no longer contnue. Take care and have a good day.
daniel cherry
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In my opinion you can debate for eternity,but it will change nothing.Poloticians tell you what ya wanna hear.And do as they want when they get in.Wouldn't it be wonderful if they all were honest and just tell the truth?And if we all knew everything our government does?And there were no secrets kept from us?How bout if our government put a freeze on gas prices like in the 70s??. its not likely. I am a registered democrat
Formerly Of Batavia
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If Batavia wanted to be a city, increase jobs, and improve the quality of life across the board there are three simple things it could do, both of which would provide immediate and long term growth in the economy: -Drop the city, town and county sales tax. -Cut property taxes across the board by 75% and impose a moratorium on all property tax increases for ten years. -Drop all corporate income taxes on all business. Batavia lost a couple generations of youth because the taxes are too high, property is too expensive and there are no jobs. The three things above will fix all of these things and be a magnet for businesses and jobs from Buffalo and Rochester looking for a cheaper place to opoerate.
Mark Potwora
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I agree ....When school size is shrinking,and they expand the school budget instead of decreasing it ,something's wrong..When the population of the city of batavia is decreasing and the budget is increasing..something's wrong.when you have to spent and average of 3 or 4 thousand dollars on property taxes ..and that is on the low end..something's wrong..and when they raise your property assessment when housing values are falling ,something's wrong..and the sales tax is crazy..8 cents on a dollar..on top of all the other taxes..So formerly of batavia ..you are so so right..
Formerly Of Batavia
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I got out about....12 years ago and got some excellent work experience I couldn't have received in WNY. I climbed the corporate ladder, got a nice position and got out of Cali before the housing bust. In the transition with a great resume I looked back to Batavia to see what it had to offer. The good news was that for the price of a 1920's 700 sq ft bungalow on a 4k sq ft lot in the Bay Area I could have a place on Naramore or in that fancy neighborhood near South Main with money left over. But then I looked at property taxes and realized that Batavia - I'm talking Batavia here and not even Buffalo - has higher property taxes as a percentage than San Francisco and Oakland. I mean that's crazy. A government, whether local or state can't tax its way to wealth. If they want more money for whatever they want to do they need to encourage business and the only way to do that is to cut taxes. Selective tax breaks only serve to cause dissent among the businesses - you need to cut all income tax on business because it is not possible to tax a business - it just gets passed on to the consumer. If you want to attract business and residents from Buffalo, Canada, Syracuse or wherever you need to offer them something that all of these places can't offer. That is no taxes. The answer is so simple its amazing there is anything left in WNY anymore. As my grandfather tells me about WNY, it's a great place to grow up and it's a great place to die. But you can't live there in the middle years.
Russ Stresing
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The formatting of comments is a mess and discourages me from engaging or even following any debate.
Howard B. Owens
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I moved here from California. The last place we lived in California was also the only place I ever owned a home. What we owned in California was smaller on a smaller lot and cost $125K more than what we own now. Yet, because of taxes, are payments were roughly the same. Taxes here are out of control. But the big difference is: Prop. 13. Otherwise, California would have high housing prices and high taxes. And the quality of life here is much, much, much better than California at this point.
Charlie Mallow
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That sounds great in a blog but, from what you described you didn't leave enough money to even pay the city's bonded debt. With the cuts your talking about, you have proposed to eliminate the city police dept, fire dept, trash pickup, street plowing and probably a few other things you never considered. There is nothing "easy" about cutting a city budget. Take it from someone who has done it. People talk about cutting taxes but, hold fast when their sacred cow finds its way to the chopping block. There is no better a way to fill a council room than even hint at a cut in services. Its a better use of time to talk about the services you want eliminated because, that's what has to go first before you can talk about tax cuts. The next topic would be how to downsize the workforce without chewing up your "savings" with legal expences. I do like your thoughts but, getting there is a little more difficult than you would think. The fact is we have high taxes in our state because, people want things and choose to elect people who will get them what they want. Politicians take pictures with big checks for a reason, people LOVE spending tax money. Its only popular to talk about cutting taxes, not the services they pay for. People want things without paying for them. Its a New York tradition. The problem is that the over spending has caused so much debt, we are buried in it. As for school taxes, you all voted for them and you do it every year. You can't blame anyone but, yourself. As for leaving the state all your doing is running out on your share of the debt you helped create. No one is without blame.
Howard B. Owens
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So let's start a movement that talks honestly about what services can be cut, and those services replaced by volunteerism, donations and other non-government initiatives, and connect that to exact tax savings. Let's talk honestly about what it really means, both in terms of how the community needs to step up and replace the lost taxes, and what impact that will have, and to what extent such cuts and changes in services structure really mean to the community as a whole. Maybe the whole debate needs to be flipped from "cut taxes' to "restructure services." It seems to be it's basic economics 101 -- if Batavia wants to grow the economy, it needs to bring down the cost of doing business in the region, of employing people in the region, and of living in the region. Reducing the tax burden will increase the amount of money people in the region have to spend on local goods and services, thereby increasing the overall tax base and raising the standard of living.
John Roach
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Look what took place when they tried to cut the Youth Dept. and put it under the County. Only one job would be cut and you had people running around saying kids would almost die if we did that. Then everyone was saying "save the kids". This would have saved money and no programs would have been cut, just one job. Where were you? Did you go to the Council meetings and speak and say make the cut? That's just one example of what Charlie is trying to tell you.
Charlie Mallow
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How about just trying to save $10,000 on Youth Football? It’s far from a vital service but, that caused a blog as long as my arm. There are many examples, just talk about cutting something and notice the reaction you get. The general public seems to believe it’s all free, well it’s NOT free. The city is broke and something needs to give. The state has buried itself in debt and yet no outrage telling them to cut services. All you hear is “just cut taxes", the popular thing to say because, ”cutting taxes" doesn't mention the tough things that need to be done first, like cutting expenses. To rally around a weak a statement, like “just cut taxes” is a waste of time. Tell me what you want to cut and stand behind that statement when the arrows start pouring down! And when I say stand by that statement, I’m not talking about at the coffee shop with your friends. Show up at council meetings, write letters in the paper, and put yourself out in the spotlight. You could even run for office, most of you think it’s easy and fun anyways. Signup, drop me a line, I’ll help you. Put all of your free time and your family on hold, fighting for what you believe in. Stop sitting back; stop waiting for someone else to carry the burden for you. “Mr. Formerly of Batavia”, why don’t you use your name? You don’t live in Batavia anymore, right? Are you afraid of the spotlight? Is it too tough for you to say what you believe and let your friends know what you said? I’m not knocking you, I understand. It’s tough to put yourself out there, where every word you say will be torn apart. Ask yourself, if people like you won’t stand up and be counted when we need turn this mess around, who will?
Mark Potwora
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Charlie,I respect and thank you for the job your doing.I have no problem with some services getting cut ..which ones are debtable..I can do without the street cleaner on my street,that could save some gas and manpower,i would be willing to go to some kind of pay per bag for trash, if it will save money..i would be willing to do without sidewalk plowing in the winter,since its spose to be the homeowers resonsiblity...I remember the debate about the dispatchers..at first you were all going to keep it the way it was,but you did the right thing and combined with the county.I give you all credit for that move.Even Mr.Cox changed his view..i think..No more the end is near now talk ..from those who supported it..when you dont have the money you have to do with out ...As far as voting a school budget down,that bull because they go to a secondary budget thats just a little less..we could have a big debate on that..point is taxes are killing us and alot of it starts at the local level..we do need to do with less..You say that we all need to get envolved,well when you need two incomes to help pay for all these taxes its hard to be envolved..that why we elect you all to represent us..and if we don't like what you do we vote you out..you talk about cutting were you can, and you give the city manager a raise ...For doing the job you hired him to..wasnt he the asst. manager when alot of this budget mess started..its a joke..what wrong with freezing pay until we are all caught up..
Charlie Mallow
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Mark, from reading what you have written, I doubt we have very much to debate about school taxes or anything else. I wish we could freeze pay until we were all caught up. Our city unions gave a lot more than most would have with agreeing to wage freezes for a year and then taking 2% increases for the next few. There is no way around a cost of living increase for people. If you have good people and you want to keep them, you have to do right by them. If you’re truly intent on making real change, those cost of living increases are not going to add up and not giving those raises hurts you in the long run with your staff. We have to concentrate our energy on the larger things. You mentioned dispatch, when all the debate about what was the best thing to do was done, it didn’t matter. Because, we as a city couldn’t afford to have the best that money could buy. There are a lot of those types of issues coming up in the next few months. People keeping an open mind would go along way. There are other ways to do things, we need to change our ways and be open to them. As for getting evolved, we all have two family incomes. We are New Yorkers; it’s a fact of life. My time as a low level Politian is coming to an end. Someone is going to need to take my place. The job takes someone with thick skin and who doesn’t care about the pay.

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