Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Reducing County Taxes: A New York Case Study

Oneida County, in New York State, has spent the last couple years, reducing spending in order to give taxes back.

That's right! I said New York.

In a press release in 2005, the current county leadership announced it had cut county jobs, and despite the unfunded mandates passed down by the State, kept tax increases down. Said the county executive at that time.

"This is a time of great opportunity here in Oneida County and we need to nurture this growth to attract more jobs and people," Griffo added. "The long-term future of Oneida County rests in making this a place where people want to live, work and build. Our county’s growth in jobs can spur home sales. We want low property tax rates to make that growth even better."
That was 2005. What about 2007? The new county executive has delivered and has promised the following.
  • I will not raise property taxes.
  • I will continue to eliminate positions.
  • I will continue to hold down general fund spending.
Those who favor high taxes may remind me that this New York County benefited from tobacco settlement money.

This is true, however the county continues to cut county jobs to favor growth. The private sector there provided more than a thousand new jobs in 2005. That is the kind of shift we should want to see here. The more government jobs are traded in for private jobs the better!
"Taxes do not occur in a vacuum. The people who pay taxes are facing increased prices
for basic foods such as bread, and gasoline prices that are still above where they were three years
ago. Senior citizens are getting Social Security increases that don’t keep pace with the cost of
living. Taxpayers should not give the government more because it means giving their families
This rhetoric has been matched by action in New York. We can do the same here.


Jeremy said...

Have you considered the distinct possibility that there was a lot more fat to cut from Oneida County, NY than there is in Davis County, UT right now?

You act like you’re in a heroic struggle against liberal big government tyrants when in actuality we have a generally well run conservative county with comparatively less waste than most of the rest of the counties in the country.

I agree with you that the currently proposed tax increase probably is higher than actually needed but the idea of firing people so we can "favor growth" isn't realistic in Davis County.

I can only speak knowledgably about the Assessor's office but we are currently grossly under-staffed. You were bitching earlier about the reassessment in 2007 and how it affected the southern part of the county. Part of the reason that was such a dramatic shock is that we haven't had the staff to keep up with the reassessments we're required by state law to do. We are supposed to be reassessing each city every 5 years yet before 2007 it had been nearly 10 years since Bountiful values were updated. If you want more inequities in the way the tax burden is distributed in Davis County than by all means elect someone who’ll fire some of us.

You should have some clue about the realities of the issues you are demagoguing before you advocate policies which would cause needless harm to our community.

Tyler Farrer said...

I did consider that New York had a lot of fat to cut, and said so.

My request of Davis County has always been that we put the minimum funding towards unfunded state and federal mandates as possible so that we don't end up like New York.

Last December the Health Department asked for dollars for a program, Title V, that is federally funded.

Plus, the tax increase was implemented despite the burden that it places on seniors who also pay for senior care.

When running for office, your boss was asked the question (by someone else, mind you) whether he would consider firing people to save money. His answer revealed a lot about him. He said no, because he wanted these people to have jobs, and the government can provide some good jobs.

That, in my opinion, is the wrong attitude to have about government. I'm not saying that the County government is overstaffed, but if a job becomes redundant, then the county must be willing to scale back.

This isn't the Hoover Dam we're building.