June 15, 2007

Pride in Taxes

As I often watch LCTV for various programming, including Legislative Journal and Niagara County Legislature meetings, I am fascinated by the slanting of the truth. Watching Tom Christy's PULSE last night, Edwina Luksck called into the show. Now, before I continue, I would like to make two statements, and I would like you to see if you can tell them apart:

1) Niagara County has the highest taxes in the country.

2) Niagara County's taxes are the highest in the country.

There is in fact a very distinct difference between the two. The first statement indicates that people who pay taxes in Niagara County pay the highest taxes in the country. It takes into account all taxing jurisdictions.

The second statement indicates that Niagara County, that being the government of Niagara County, levys the highest taxes in the country.

As we have heard, the Tax Foundation has determined that Niagara County has the highest taxes in the country when evaluated as a percentage of home value. My problem with this is twofold. Firstly, this is one gauge of taxation, and one seldom used by industry analysts when evaluating an area's tax impact. Unfortunately, a very few have taken this one very small nugget of information as gospel, and have gone so far as to make a billboard out of it, and spew it every Legislature meeting. It's unfortunate how some people are unable to think for themselves.

Secondly, those who eschew this information are missing the bigger picture. Yes, taxes are an issue, but they are an issue statewide. To assert that the tax problem is immune to Niagara County is downright idiotic. The issue that we should be promoting is that we have low property values. Unfortunately, there are those like Edwina that are simply sheep following a blind sheep herder. These are the people that, despite their assertions to the contrary, want to see Niagara County fail. It gives Don Hobel great joy when businesses that received IDA assistance go under.

Back to the two statements. As we all know, Niagara County does not have the highest taxes in the country. There are those who actually enjoy the Tax Foundation's "interpretation" of our taxes. It gives them something to chirp about. But the bigger problem is the way these people portray this interpretation. They espouse these findings as if the county's taxes are the highest. What you don't hear out of these sheep, and I mean Edwina, Hobel, Rosemary Warren, Margie Swan, Joanne Dickey, and the other idiots who think they're somebody because they shoot their big mouths off, is the fact that the school taxes are far and away the most significant portion of our school tax bills.

Why do you not see or hear them spouting about school taxes? The answer is very simple: There are no cameras at the school board meetings. They get off getting on. TV, that is.

Having a mind of my own, I wrote to New York State and asked for computed tax rates for all counties. Computed tax rates are the most accurate depiction of a county's tax rate per thousand. If we want to be objective, let's take a look at the tax rates for New York State counties.

YEAR MUNI_NAME Total Full Value Tax Levy Tax Rate ($000)

2006 MONTGOMERY 1,545,603,477 27,273,528 17.65
2006 ALLEGANY 1,487,476,836 21,781,291 14.64
2006 CORTLAND 1,698,123,252 22,830,419 13.44
2006 CHENANGO 1,670,579,130 20,999,094 12.57
2006 CATTARAUGUS 3,139,827,550 38,789,760 12.35
2006 SCHUYLER 799,193,680 8,420,647 10.54
2006 FULTON 2,316,461,434 23,628,893 10.20
2006 OSWEGO 4,142,136,979 41,818,318 10.10
2006 GENESEE 2,242,848,806 22,033,758 9.82
2006 SCHOHARIE 1,597,267,044 15,441,221 9.67
2006 WAYNE 3,862,809,185 36,657,918 9.49
2006 CHAUTAUQUA 5,623,636,707 53,350,209 9.49
2006 TIOGA 1,904,319,286 17,844,826 9.37
2006 ST LAWRENCE 3,913,564,622 36,312,754 9.28
2006 CHEMUNG 3,093,242,764 28,252,882 9.13
2006 CAYUGA 3,200,568,236 29,077,518 9.09
2006 JEFFERSON 4,263,118,806 38,198,518 8.96
2006 NIAGARA 8,351,224,386 72,680,456 8.70
2006 LEWIS 1,174,448,030 10,056,345 8.56
2006 STEUBEN 3,955,893,111 33,542,617 8.48
2006 MADISON 3,014,104,940 25,270,046 8.38
2006 ORLEANS 1,385,474,934 11,349,991 8.19
2006 MONROE 33,528,442,883 269,041,216 8.02
2006 WASHINGTON 3,168,870,404 24,568,570 7.75
2006 SCHENECTADY 7,525,987,718 58,259,535 7.74
2006 YATES 1,596,470,485 12,069,403 7.56
2006 BROOME 6,998,440,370 52,708,284 7.53
2006 LIVINGSTON 2,618,897,565 19,496,858 7.44
2006 ONEIDA 7,726,433,661 56,960,283 7.37
2006 SENECA 1,326,499,176 9,254,661 6.98
2006 ONONDAGA 20,357,273,151 135,822,317 6.67
2006 ONTARIO 6,125,859,491 40,561,816 6.62
2006 RENSSELAER 7,226,217,057 47,316,963 6.55
2006 TOMPKINS 5,022,740,606 32,238,239 6.42
2006 WYOMING 1,657,361,922 10,569,339 6.38
2006 FRANKLIN 2,496,502,095 15,679,651 6.28
2006 COLUMBIA 5,746,093,220 35,151,833 6.12
2006 HERKIMER 3,632,860,025 21,792,503 6.00
2006 SULLIVAN 6,569,928,302 39,135,203 5.96
2006 CLINTON 3,521,725,247 20,435,471 5.80
2006 DELAWARE 3,974,165,964 22,986,243 5.78
2006 ERIE 38,102,215,587 194,655,584 5.11
2006 GREENE 4,052,235,974 18,204,197 4.49
2006 ULSTER 16,302,335,603 65,659,635 4.03
2006 OTSEGO 2,976,866,263 11,567,891 3.89
2006 ALBANY 19,440,085,728 67,135,129 3.45
2006 WARREN 7,734,045,757 24,513,801 3.17
2006 ORANGE 32,599,344,908 101,535,721 3.11
2006 WESTCHESTER 161,724,491,511 492,668,805 3.05
2006 ESSEX 4,519,549,588 13,559,392 3.00
2006 DUTCHESS 29,588,132,867 76,228,394 2.58
2006 SARATOGA 15,367,646,796 36,651,914 2.39
2006 HAMILTON 2,425,234,520 5,171,047 2.13
2006 NASSAU 212,313,809,008 451,629,846 2.13
2006 SUFFOLK 250,479,032,863 514,222,751 2.05
2006 PUTNAM 14,264,305,474 22,746,480 1.59
2006 ROCKLAND 37,885,694,465 46,318,669 1.22

(Should this not format properly, the last number on the right is the tax rate per thousand.)

Obviously, we are not number one in the United States. Of course, some people won't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Niagara County looks pretty middle of the road, despite the pride some in the community take in the being number one in the Tax Foundation's interpretation.

1 comment:

Mr. Pink said...

Figures lie and liars figure....and if you're part of the Friendly's Milkshake bunch you don't need to have your facts straight, you just need to look good on LCTV.

And to some degree it's a shame because Don Hobel really does seem to know IDA law and could probably be a major force for positive change if he wasn't always attacking everyone as if they had insidious motives.