Should the Genesee County Legislature consider a tax-rate hike?
Submitted by Howard Owens on December 1, 2010 - 9:38pm
Legislator Bob Bausch was a brave soul this evening during the county's budget discussion.
Perhaps, he ventured, the legislature should consider raising taxes.
His reason: This may be the last chance.
Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has said he wants to cap property tax increases at 2 percent. That may apply to the total levy (in Genesee County, that's about $24 million), and it may just apply to school districts.
Or it may not.
And Bausch wondered aloud if maybe the county should raise the property tax rate by as much as $1 to establish a higher levy and avoid having its hands tied for the 2012 budget.
The suggestion hit the floor like an anvil.
No other legislator was willing to pick up the idea, though County Manager Jay Gsell did note briefly that Cuomo's proposal just seems like an attempt by Albany to further restrict what little control local governments have over local budgets.
Next year, Gsell said, the county may have to grapple with a $9 million deficit.
During the Genesee Justice discussion, Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock said, "We must shrink the size of government because we're a burden to our constituents. We can't go back on that now."
But is there really a hue and cry from Genesee County residents of "don't raise our taxes no matter what the consequences"?
Isn't the government that's a real burden on taxpayers sitting in Albany or Washington, not 15 Main St., Batavia?
As we were leaving tonight, I mentioned to Legislator Ray Cianfrini that this is the most fascinating budget process I've covered in my journalism career. He said wryly, "wait until next year."
Here's a very interesting article about the property tax cap from LoHud.com. Well researched and well worth reading.