As a North Rockland resident, this past year I have seen my school property taxes increase nearly 8 percent, my town taxes increase 2.9 percent and my county property taxes will increase by more than 30 percent, in addition to several other county taxes that add up to the equivalent of another 30 percent.
Although I know that there are important programs and services that need to be maintained, I also know that a playbook of “more” and increasing taxes is not the answer. Rockland County is now the fourth highest county in the nation in regards to property taxes. This is not a list that we should be working our way to the top of.
The time has come for our municipalities and school districts to redesign the way they do business and come up with a much smarter playbook than one of continued tax increases. Our residents and businesses are maxed out and we must look at consolidation or the greater sharing of services amongst our municipalities and school districts. Earlier this year New York State Controller Tom DiNapoli put out a report that millions could be saved through the consolidation of highway services. For the greater good of all, we must not let a “fiefdom mentality” prevail and obstruct such necessary reforms.
We can choose to consolidate or increase the sharing of services amongst our municipalities and school districts by design or default. It will be less painful if it happens by design than by default. Our municipalities and school districts must also start prioritizing their needs vs. their wants just like every business and household has done during this great recession. So my wish for our elected officials for 2012 is that their New Year’s Resolutions include a new playbook of thinking smarter before going back to the old playbook of “more” taxes. This is the only way that Rockland County will become a place where residents and businesses can once again live and thrive in.