The Niagara County Legislature is preparing to approve the 2008 budget that has been presented to them by County Manager Greg Lewis. Lewis initially stated that his budget would include a tax increase not to exceed three percent. He noted that the budget calls for a reduction in the property tax levy, or the total amount to be raised by taxes, of 6.8 percent, and that county spending will be reduced by more than $9 million from current year operations.
Under the plan, the 2008 average tax rate will increase by five cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This means that the average projected County tax on a property assessed at $100,000 will increase by $5.00. This will vary based on equalization rate established for each town and city.
Approximately 200 employees from Mt. View will no longer be on the county payroll and the Social Services Department have more than 60 fewer jobs than it had in 2000.
This is all good news. As I have said before, the county appears to be addressing the label of the highest taxed county in the country, but few of the other taxing jurisdictions are doing the same. Unfortunately, when the label was placed on the county, some placed the label on the County. There is a distinct difference.
The study labeled all taxing jurisdictions combined as the highest taxed. School districts, town, city & village governments, special districts, and the County. I'm not sure why this is such a difficult concept to grasp, but as recently as November 18th, Lockport Union Sun Journal Editor Tim Marren, in his column, stated, "The last time a billboard made the news in Niagara County was when Lee Bordeleau decided to boast — or lament — the fact that Niagara County was No. 2 in taxes. All that did was lead Niagara County’s electorate to vote the same people into office again."
Tim, are you unable to comprehend the truth or do you simply choose to ignore it? Either way, when you make comments like that, you're doing a disservice to the community, and letting the other taxing jurisdictions off the hook for their portion of the tax burden.
Why not call out the school districts? Why not call out the special districts and the Town Supervisors that use the water and sewer districts as a haven for political patronage? Why not call out Frank Nerone, who retired from the Sewer District in 2001with a pension of $5,500 a month, only to be brought back as a consultant at $5,000 a month. He's getting 10,500 per month to work at the Sewer District. He, by the way, wants a raise.
What about attorney Bob Roberson, who submitted legal bills to the district with no records that the work was done. When the county auditor refused to pay the bills, Roberson sued the county.
These are but two of the abuses of tax dollars that you choose to ignore. You focus on "County" taxes because it's easy. It doesn't take any actual reporting to say that "Niagara County was No. 2 in taxes. All that did was lead Niagara County’s electorate to vote the same people into office again." It's downright pathetic.
I don't know where you got your journalism degree, apparently, Cracker Jack still has some decent prizes, but wherever you got the degree from, you should demand a refund because they didn't teach you squat about being a reporter.
As for Niagara County, keep up the cost cutting measures, and keep doing your part to address taxes. People of reasonable intellect are well aware of the misguided views of our local periodical.