Property tax freeze is just sleight of hand

One has to give Gov. Andrew Cuomo his due. He has repeatedly worked his magic to accomplish things that seem to defy the laws of political nature. And now, for his next act he will perform a “property tax freeze” upon local governments that will refund a very small personal income tax credit, a sliver of cheese if you will, for homeowners. Once again, we taxpayers will have a smile upon our faces as reality eludes us for the moment.

Reality No. 1: New York has among the highest state income taxes and least generous personal exemptions in the nation. Reality No. 2: Thanks principally to federal and state mandates, we also have one of the highest property tax rates in the nation. Yet in Orchard Park, only 13 percent of property taxes are directly related to providing the town and village services our residents want. Reality No. 3: Restricted revenues. A few years ago the 2 percent tax cap was imposed, a level Orchard Park has been at for more than a decade. Now a freeze will become the law. Reality No. 4: Simple math. More mandates plus restricted revenues equals, eventually, fiscal distress and/or diminished services at the local level.

Herein is the real magic of it all. Instead of getting the tax-consuming state house in order, the governor is able to misdirect our attention. And being drawn to the cheese insinuated within the mouse trap, we unknowingly endanger our right to self-determination in our local communities. We should, instead, assure our foundational way of life by defending our liberty to govern ourselves without the illusory interference and machinations of big government. We must remain fixed in our pursuit of happiness at the local level, where government is closest to and, therefore, most perfectly of the people, by the people and for the people.

John B. Wilson

Mayor, Village of Orchard Park

Patrick J. Keem

Supervisor, Town of Orchard Park