TaxNightmare.org End the property tax nightmare!

November 30, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 10:48 pm

WHAT DOES ALBANY LOOK LIKE  WHEN IT WORKS???……nov. 30

I THOUGHT YOU’D NEVER ASK? That’s because we all know what Albany looks like when it DOESN’T work.

Been there and done that….Today was better.

We’ve come a long way from the days when –in response to our lobbying for property tax reform –we heard folks in Albany say things like:

“If they can’t afford the taxes let them sell and buy a smaller house (my all time most hated statement by a legislator.) L                      

                       Or

“Property taxes are a stable way to pay for services because people have to pay the tax…(or they lose their homes??? NICE!)L

I haven’t heard that kind of nonsense in ages…and I credit all the coordinated (by Ron) teamwork of the Omnibus Consortium and you, our supporters…..and (surprise, surprise) some very excellent people in Albany…and today we went federal… more on that later.

We had productive and collegial meetings with people who know their stuff…and ours too.

The people we met with today are completely on top of the property tax crisis; are familiar with our work on the solution; and support the concept.

I’ll report more fully giving names and titles later in the week when I can decipher my notes (I lie…I never take notes so I have to check with Our Omnibus Consortium Leader, Ron Deutsch.) But the “felt quality” of a meeting never eludes me…and these were good.

What I can report is that we are now conferring with staff who are getting down to  business…not a lot of palaver…. it’s about funding the circuit breaker as it appears in the Omnibus Solution and the bills in the Assembly -Englebright A8702- and in the Senate -Kreuger S4239a.

Given the wreck of our economy it’s not a completely easy sell.

 But the fact everybody understands (most of the time) is that precisely because of the dismal state of the economy property tax reform is more critical than ever.

People must not be kicked to the curb to make the books look good.

Happily we met with our favorites Mike L.and Jim S. from Sen. Kreuger’s office. Mike chaired the meeting and brought in another good friend of ours Jim Watson-Senate Finance. ( It’s heavy on the numbers time.)

Mike is the expert on the Kreuger bill and has put heart and soul into property tax reform…We talked about ideas for getting the funding…but –more important in this meeting – Mike is primarily determined to get relief and reform on the road to you ASAP…..and he still looks good…hey I need to have a visual to keep me focused.

Those charts just don’t have the pizzazz of a good visual.J

      then

We spent more than an hour in a meeting with the brains who crunch the numbers with our friend (so far) Bob Megna, the Budget Director.

I’ll blog names and titles later. You should get to know them. They make big decisions about your life by being masters of the numbers…

There is no need to get these guys up to speed; they are well versed on our bill..…(the Governor supports the circuit breaker concept)..but we’re still driving hard to close the real deal.

Even in the midst of the deficit reduction madness we are all talking … the budget experts were gracious, generous with their time, and  forthcoming….we are running circuit breaker scenarios-and so are they– and when you realize that a percentage point can mean the difference between a thousand families keeping their homes or not …the moment can be very intense.

We exchanged numbers-not those telephone ones- BIG NUMBERS…with dollar signs next to them…it’s painful …especially because  I don’t know how many more tax nightmare stories  Roberta (by George on this blog) can collect before one of us (probably me or Roberta ) goes berserk.

Naturally Roberta leaves her nightmare booklet with everyone…..to attach faces to the percentage points….it’s just too easy to bury people under an avalanche of numbers.

               AND THEN WE WENT FEDERAL

Down the hill and into the  Leo O’brien federal office building…

We must have been screened and scanned five separate times going back and forth all day…a helluva lot harder getting into the fed building than getting into the state dinner and shaking hands with the prez.  – (I can’t help it…what WERE they thinking!!)

Anyway, I digress…

We have been very intent on meeting and talking to our U.S. Senators (we talk to our state senators all the time) about this issue. 

We have especially wanted to discuss property taxes with Sen. Gillibrand because we have followed her career and we know she is aware of the enormity of the problem and has spoken out on the need for remediation….possible solutions…..with reference to a circuit breaker as an “interim” solution…

This is especially dear to my heart because I know –at the end of the day-the tax structure vis-à-vis property taxes needs a complete overhaul…..and we allow for that in our Omnibus Bill…along with immediate relief in the form of the circuit breaker.

In addition to the fact that Senator Gillibrand is well-versed on the issue, property tax reform DOES involve the federal government. Consider these few facts:

·       The feds have stiffed NYS on funding the federally mandated No Child Left Behind (Have I mentioned in the last ten minutes how I loathe those ^%$#@ tests?) by billions of bucks, necessitating increases in school property taxes to pay for them…how do you like them apples??

·       Property taxes have morphed into a nationwide monstrosity…NYS could provide the template for reform nationwide…

·       The middle class –which the federal government has recognized as being endangered -is being mugged by the chaotic property tax.

·       With Unemployment escalating (due to all the years of pillaging and/or neglect of the economy) the property tax is kicking people when they’re down…hey, guys, unlike income taxes, even if you have zero income, your property taxes go rampaging along and you lose your home right after your job.  This can’t happen with the Omnibus circuit breaker in place.

 

·       The housing market – a major source of our current woes has succumbed to a one- two punch…the bubble burst so people can’t sell their MORTGAGED UP homes and they can’t continue to pay their exorbitant property taxes….and who the hell is going to buy a house encumbered with huge property tax bills anyway??.

 

All of this and more was the subject of our very informative discussion with David Connors, Senator Gillibrand’s regional representative.

First time lucky…in our first meeting on the federal level we struck gold (so to speak)…David is a very quick study. It is necessary for us to look at the issue from the federal perspective and solicit support from our U.S.Senators.

 (…and yes, I know  I’m going light on the specifics….cut me some slack for a couple of weeks.)

 

Brainstorming with David made us even more aware of how this chaotic and grossly unfair tax has retarded our progress towards economic recovery…in this state and so many others.

 

Good meetings. Good people. Today I didn’t consign Albany to the worst of Dante’s levels of hell….there are some good people there.

 

…..and we happen to know them all.

 

Nice to meet you David Connors. Hope to see you soon.

JJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJJ

November 29, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 1:40 pm

hairpulling2

I got this message from a tax reformer who is on the front line:  11/ 28

Property values are plummeting into the hellosphere, however the property taxes are escalating into the stratosphere. Regular people get VERY confused about this little formula. 

Property values and taxes do not go hand in hand as one goes down, so does the other, NOT!!!

The truth is that the formula changes to continually make up for the loss in value.  The rate per thousand keeps shifting.

Also, NO uniformity exists within the system so every county and district within those counties has different formulas. 

Most people get so frustrated and then they call their relative in another part of the county and they just end up more confused because they don’t even calculate it the same darn way.

Talk about people wanting to pull their hair out!!! Now people have no money and their hair looks terrible, NOT a good thing.

November 26, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 12:55 am

HAPPY  THANKSGIVING!

We will be at meetings in Albany on Monday, Nov. 30th and will report back to you ….

I am thankful that we are much closer to PROPERTY TAX reform than we were a year ago….

…and hopefully our MEETINGS  on Monday will take us even closer to our goal of ending the                      

           TAXNIGHTMARE

November 22, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 6:19 pm

11/22

When I saw this headline in that great paper the Legislative Gazette …

Milestone for “Albany Mummies”

I immediately thought …….aw heck, you know what I thought.J  Wouldn’t you think the same thing??

Of course the story was about real mummies in Albany’s Institute of History and Art not a critique of the legislature’s last emergency session.

Along with this interesting headline, I hope you caught  the story in the Times about the guy who strangled his wife and got off because he was sleeping at the time and was just strangling some stranger  in a nightmare.

I bet all the pols, who are soon to be –or are already-on trial, are wishing they have the  same jury.

Of equal oddness was a plan for deficit reduction by the Senate Finance Committee, one plank of which would help end the budget gap by just expanding the hours of lottery gambling so folks could stay up later throwing away the food money….

…….now if we just legalize and tax pot and  prostitution, and set up state run  porno parlors-maybe in those tax exempt mansions along the Hudson that are currently deluxe retreats and monasteries – we’d be out of the deficit woods with zero service cuts required.

As I read what I wrote I realize those aren’t such bad ideas…really….(except for expanding the gambling hours which is too timid a move by far unless they’re doing business 24/7.)

In fact the pot tax alone could fund property tax reform.

…and that’s just in Albany.

How else do you explain what’s happening there??

                                 AND

–Here’s a link you should try….the Comptroller’s annual report… sent by a tax reform colleague who is always on the alert…..

An important document to read -if you’re not too tired from those three jobs you work in order to pay your property taxes, you can read how really dire the property tax situation is in NYS.    Really??!! You think??!!

 

http://www.osc.state.ny.us/localgov/datanstat/annreport/09annreport.pdf

 

 

November 21, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 4:43 am

11/22

“ The Property Tax is just one thing in competition for funds in the governor’s budget with a lot of other things.”…..NOT SO!!  

That is a facile, disingenuous, and frankly ignorant description (by someone who ought to have known better) of the struggle to address this confiscatory tax.

Delivery of public services is of paramount importance and Albany has not done this job with any notable precision, acumen, or transparency.

However there is no reason but political chicanery to pit the funding of services against the reform of a tax which infringes the rights of citizens.

These two worthwhile pursuits do not inhabit the same space.

They must both be addressed-but not in competition with each other.

Services and the property tax issue intersect at this moment in time because the state has been shifting its responsibility for funding services onto this very dubious way of raising the funds.

The burden of the property tax on working and middle class families has risen astronomically, but the escalating amount of the tax is not the whole problem with it.

EVEN IF THE TAX WERE NOT quite so EXCESSIVE IT WOULD STILL BE PROBLEMATICAL IN PRACTICE.

The state MAY NOT enter the house of a law abiding citizen and take it at will. That is too obvious to dispute.

By the same token, how can government entities raise unlimited amounts of money by taxation of the putative value of homes-without regard to the income of the owners and by using dubious and unacceptable determinants to assess that value– and then take those homes(and all the equityover and above the tax -that remains in them) when the money demanded is beyond the reach of the owner?

Yet this is the contour of the property tax as it is practiced.

All the decision makers cannot be ignorant of the considerable body of information attacking the tax; so one must assume that they do not want to deal -during their tenure in office- with the larger issues of taxation, equity, justice, and the rights of citizens – nor are most of them rushing to protect citizens from the financial ruin brought on by state government’s neglect of the property tax crisis..

It has seemed much simpler for lawmakers to dole out some small relief to try and shut the public up.

That tactic  has stopped working..and we at Taxnightmare have repeatedly made that clear.

Eventually the ever escalating number of court cases testing the legality of various aspects of the property tax will bring changes. They will be sudden, unplanned, and episodic changes forced upon a state government wholly unprepared to deal with them. Meanwhile there is misery.

The Omnibus Solution delivers relief and also -simultaneously – plans for orderly reform and the restoration of legitimacy to the property tax. The state should grab the chance to restore order and equity to our system of taxation.

If Albany can’t manage the basic job of protecting the rights of citizens-or restoring those rights when necessary- then it doesn’t matter what else Albany does; it has failed.

November 19, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 10:39 pm

MEETINGS between  THE OMNIBUS CONSORTIUM AND DECISION MAKERS IN ALBANY ARE SCHEDULED TO BEGIN NOV.30TH….today is Nov. 19th

We are finished with discussing, shaping, and propounding the solution to the property tax crisis. As you probably know , any amelioration  of this civic disaster must meet the following criteria:

·       real and substantial relief for desperate taxpayers ASAP

·       fiscal responsibility

·       support from the most respected good government groups  

·       a comprehensive plan for reform of the chaotic property tax to restore it to legality

·       backing from the most dedicated and influential  legislators in Albany

 

The only solution in the political arena that meets ALL of the above  criteria is the Mauro Omnibus Relief and Reform Bill …as embodied in S4239a and A8702…no contest…hands down….the best chance for taxpayers (and the state) to survive this property tax scourge.

So what’s the hold-up???

You know the answer… the money needed to fund the bill.

…and that will be the topic discussed at the meetings. It always boils down to that single fact.

Tomorrow I’ll outline why property tax reform must take priority.

 

 

 

November 18, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 4:40 pm

ALBANY CUTS SERVICES AND SHIFTS FUNDING TO PROPERTY TAX!!

ALBANY CUTS SERVICES AND SHIFTS FUNDING TO PROPERTY TAX!!

 

November 17, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 1:37 am

condemnedSOPHISTRY..THY NAME IS ALBANY…Mon., Nov. 16

The kind of reasoning that goes on in Albany these days would make the ancient Greek Sophists blush for shame. The Sophists tried to teach logic in argument.

Today their name is used –perversely- in the word “sophistry” which is just the opposite…an argument that uses confusion and illogic to deceive.

BOTH sides of the aisle in Albany today are masters of sophistry.

The Democrats say the cuts they are proposing would lower taxes. NOT SO!

The cuts they are proposing-whatever else they might do – will not address the burning issue of exorbitant property taxes consuming homeowners and renters.

QUITE THE OPPOSITE!

Absent our Omnibus Circuit Breaker legislation to put a brake on how much of your income can be consumed by property taxes, the proposed cuts ( dems and reps alike are gibbering about cuts and saying nothing about real prop. tax relief) would simply shift education costs and Medicaid costs to the property taxpayer in increased school budgets and increased county budgets.

An AP story recently confirmed the fact of a shift.( In case you didn’t believe me.L)

The Republicans-as you may have read today – are blaming everything on the Democrats, absolving themselves of any responsibility for all their years as the majority party in the Senate. DUH!

Have the Republicans embraced our Omnibus solution or are they still touting useless budget caps which will never roll back run-a-way property taxes? No, they are still touting budget caps and avoiding the real solution!

Have the Democrats embraced our reform? NO, they are still avoiding a solution also.

Republicans and Democrats are both deaf to the electorate that has-by now-lost all respect for either caucus.

The voters have BS detectors so powerful that ANY pronouncement coming out of Albany will have a hard time passing muster.

The simple fact is that it doesn’t take ALL the members of either party to pass the property tax bills (or any other bills) currently introduced in BOTH houses –just a combination of decent and serious democrats and republicans to add up to a majority…even a one vote majority.

The days when the parties could blame inaction on each other are long gone. There’s plenty of blame to go around.

 If anyone tells you that either all the republicans or all the democrats have to be on board for a bill to pass, that’s a piece of sophistry meant to deceive.

It’s incredible that the devastating results of this long running property tax crisis are  STILL used as just another political dodge ball game.

The Omnibus Consortium conferred today and –after a recap of the current Albany scene (L)- went over our plan of action in preparation for our return to Albany. Keep checking this blog for details…more in a day or two.

 

The press has been leaking names of a possible Cuomo team if he runs for governor…an interesting sidebar in the story was the mention of property taxes as an election issue!  An election issue??!!! AN ELECTION ISSUE!!!??

The chaos being caused by exorbitant property taxes has been used in electioneering for decades without resolution.

….if this crisis remains unresolved through yet another election cycle then Albany should be shut down and gutted like a derelict building. How ridiculous can it get???

 

November 14, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 6:57 pm

 

 

gornischt-helfen-0021

GORNISCHT  HELFEN!!

As you know sometimes one searches foreign languages to look for perfect meaning-a word or expression that fits the situation so well you use it in its original form because it  would lose in the translation.

“Cool” and “Okay” are used everywhere in the world…

Examples abound. “Mangia!” (Italian) conveys so much more than just “eat”. “Kawo Kudi” (Hausa) doesn’t simply connote “bring the money” (as I mentioned in a previous blog.)…. and of course there’s always “cherchez la femme!”

Watching Albany on display recently-and waiting anxiously for real movement to stem the fatalities from the property tax crisis- I searched my brain for the perfect way to describe the dithering and gibbering coming from our state capital.

Only one thing came to mind….the excellent Yiddish expression GORNISCHT  HELFEN !”

Check it out…

November 11, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 3:37 pm

NO GOOD NEWS FROM THE NORTH

BY GEORGE

 

DAMIAN HAS PACKED UP AND LEFT

  MAN LEAVES STATE FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE AFTER LOSING CENTURY OLD FAMILY HOME AT COUNTY AUCTION,   (ALSO 27 OTHER PROPERTIES OWNED BY PERMANENT RESIDENTS OF WASHINGTON COUNTY)  THE  OWNER SAID, “I NEED TO LET IT GO”  I TRIED TO COME UP WITH THE MONEY BY BUDGETING,  BORROWING AND PLEADING,  BUT THIS WAS NOT THE FIRST TIME  I’D HAD PROBLEMS PAYING THE TAXES,  IN THE PAST I HAD MANAGED TO KEEP MY HOME, BUT THIS TIME IT WAS NOT TO BE..

  THE TOTAL REALIZED FROM THE SALE OF 28 HOMES AND LOTS WAS $394,288. FOR THE COUNTY.  THAT’S LESS THAN $ 15,000 A FAMILY TO RID OUR STATE OF LONG TIME  PERMANENT  RESIDENTS.

 

CLOSED

BRIDGE TO VERMONT MAY CAUSE EXODUS    

   CITIZENS OF NORTHERN NEW YORK ARE SIMPLY FURIOUS,  ASKING, “WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR TAX DOLLARS???……..”   WE HAVE BEEN PAYING EXORBITANT  PROPERTY TAXES FOR TOO LONG,  AND NOW ,  TOO LATE,  WE LEARN THAT OUR STATE HAS NEGLECTED TO KEEP  OUR ONLY COMMUTER ROUTE TO VERMONT  UNDER CAREFUL INSPECTION. 

    FOR A HUGE PORTION OF OUR NORTHERN  NEW YORK  POPULATION, THE ONLY MEANS OF INCOME IS  WORKING IN VERMONT  THESE PEOPLE ARE NOW CONSIDERING  MOVING TO VERMONT ,  ( AFTER ALL, A  3 TO 4 HOUR COMMUTE, WHEN YOU HAVE CHILDREN IN NEW YORK,  AND DAY CARE TO TAKE THEM TO ETC, IS A BIT EXCESSIVE)

SOME OF THESE PEOPLE HAVE ALREADY RENTED APARTMENTS OVER THE BORDER, (THESE ARE THE ONES WHO DON’T HAVE CHILDREN AND ARE ABLE TO STAY AWAY FOR LONG PERIODS)

DONT NEGLECT THIS  IMPORTANT FACT,  MOST OF OUR HOSPITALS AND HEALTH FACILITIES ARE LOCATED IN VERMONT.

   SO  NOW…………..  IF A GOOD WIND IS BLOWING  FROM  THE NORTHEAST,  THAT’S WHERE THE  ICE FISHERMEN BETTER BE CHOPPING THEIR HOLES, BEING  AT-READY TO MOVE THEIR SHANTIES SHOULD THE WIND SHIFT………

   ADIRONDACKERS ARE RESOURCEFUL PEOPLE, BUT WE CAN’T  LIVE OFF THE LAND ANYMORE, WE HAVE TAXES TO PAY…………………

   QUESTIONS WE HAVE ??

     HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  ARE WE NORTHERNERS A NON EXISTENT PART OF OUR STATE?

     MORE IMPORTANT,   WHERE ARE THE JOBS FOR THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE??

 

UPDATE  (GLENS FALLS POST STAR, 10/9/09)

BRIDGE DEMOLITION SHOULD START BEFORE THE END OF THIS YEAR   (THAT’S JUST A QUICK 50 DAYS AWAY)  

HAS THE STATE EVER WORKED SO FAST?   WHY SUCH SPEED?     ACCORDING TO STANLEY GEE,   ACTING COMMISIONER OF THE NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, IF REPAIRS WERE ATTEMPTED, THE SEVERITY OF DETERIORATION TO THE PIERS WOULD ENDANGER THE CONTRACTORS AND ENGINEERS.       OHMIGOD **  WHAT ABOUT ALL THE CITIZENS THAT HAVE BEEN RISKING THEIR LIVES TO GET TO WORK EACH DAY…………..  IF THE BRIDGE  IS IN DANGER OF FALLING DOWN AT ANY MOMENT,  JUST HOW DID IT GET SO BAD SINCE THE LAST INSPECTION ??

THE ADIRONDACKERS WANT ANSWERS…………

 

SPEAKING OF ADIRONDACKERS,  HERE’S AN INTERESTING OBSERVATION.

  ACCORDING TO LARRY MILLER,  (A RESEARCHER WITH THE HISTORY CHANNEL)   WHILE TRYING TO LOCATE  WORLD WAR I I  SOLDIERS FROM 1943 WHO DIED IN NORTH AFRICA,    (GOING FROM A PUBLISHED LIST OF DECEASED FROM NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY)   HE DECIDED THAT THE FASTEST AND SUREST WAY TO LOCATE RELATIVES OF A DECEASED SOLDIER, WOULD BE TO  ” LOOK FOR SOMEONE IN THE ADIRONDACKS ,  JUST ON THE THEORY THAT  PEOPLE  WHO LIVE IN THE ADIRONDACKS DON’T MOVE AROUND VERY MUCH”

   WELL, THEY’RE MOVING NOW ………………….

 

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