End the property tax nightmare!

January 30, 2010

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 4:36 pm


Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 4:34 pm


Foreclosures And property tax delinquencies are up everywhere in the state.

We already know the executive budget coming out of Albany says it will give taxpayers a little help with this calamity when it has some extra money sometime in the future, maybe…L

But here are a few nasty items you should know about tax delinquencies all over the state -which are on the rise- caused not only by the recession but by the decades long refusal of Albany to confront the issue of ruinous property taxes..               and 

…..coupled with the cuts to local and school districts -coming from Albany-watch those delinquencies skyrocket.

     ……        Which affects you even if you can manage to pay your own taxes….

If there are tax shortfalls due to tax delinquency in ANY school district in your county, your county property taxes are used to make them up.

Let me clarify. School district X-not your own but in your county- decides to raise the budget to fix the gym or has to float a bond to build a new building or has an influx of children and needs to accommodate them. 

Well the tax raise in school district X causes lots of tax delinquencies because a lot more people in that district fall over the edge.

The school district with the delinquencies doesn’t have the  problem of making up the shortfall caused by the delinquencies..

The county must rush in and pay those delinquencies…we call that “making the district whole”…and whose money is used?

Not just the folks in district X but property taxes from you and everyone else in the county!

…except of course the “blessedly” tax exempt properties…

They are NOT their brother’s keeper and neither is Albany.

But you-of course- are.




January 28, 2010

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 6:41 pm


Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 6:39 pm

Not  nice:  1/28

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 2:51 pm

It’s not nice that in the district that is #1 out of 692 school districts in NY in the number of residents failing to pay their property taxes,
town residents are assessed some of the highest property taxes in
the nation.

 Families in that district report paying up to 48% of their income in
property taxes
.           AND

The school district has an $8.5 million surplus, or 25% of the
2008-2009 tax levied on the district, according to the office of the
NYS Comptroller, almost 3 times the amount allowed by the NYS
Department of Education.

(Taken from a press release by The Property Tax Reform Task Force, one of the first groups to fight for property tax reform in the state…thanks to Carole Kraus leader and coordinator of NYS Prop. Tax Reform Coalition)

It’s not nice that while the Governor is proposing very laudable ethics reforms he is fund raising in a religious community and proposing that a ban on tuition assistance to religious schools be revised – a move that would directly benefit the community that has contributed so generously to his reelection campaign.

(Taken from an editorial in the Times-Herald Record.)

It’s not nice that state school aid is based in part on the apparent “wealth” of a community which is derived from the voodoo formulae that are twisted and fabricated to try to make the property tax rational… AS IF-(my favorite phraseJ).

….so middle class working people or relatively poorer individuals get smacked harder in property taxes that pay for education and Medicaid in those “wealthy” communities…we get this complaint from people from Westchester to L.I. counties….not everybody is wealthy in a “wealthy” community…and not everyone is wealthy in a wealthy nation which is why our income taxes are based on… income, of course….but NOT the god-awful property tax.

It’s not niceby the same token- that communities with

lower assessed property values have less money in property taxes to pay for their schools…..clearly in defiance of the state constitution which says each individual child is entitled to a sound basic education-  EACH child! Not each community or each school district…each child.

( from facts in the CFE lawsuit)

It’s not nice that the crazy property tax and the predatory property tax exemption system-evil twins for sure…have come together to allow the following scandalous event…in a school district which is the only district in the region to get an increase in state aid because it is a “poor” place, wealthy individuals (one at least is from a not-for-profit that is forbidden by federal law to make a campaign contribution) have contributed handsomely to a political campaign ….

( taken from an article By Chris McKenna in the T-HR –…Peter Zenger is the most important saint in my Pantheon…thanks to Peter Zenger for a free  press..remember your HS history class?)

It’s not nice that Albany has ignored the above referenced CFE lawsuit that ordered Albany to address the imbalance in the amounts spent on children depending on the area in which they live…(the imbalance is one of the outcomes  of the destructive property tax.)

Gov. Spitzer established a payment plan to comply with CFE that started to address the constitutional issue…based on individual children and not some phoney ratio of wealth or poverty of a community.

Then Gov. Paterson stopped – (“postponed” is the Albany choice of word) the payments; and has now stretched the schedule to ten years instead of Spitzer’s four.

That means another ten year hit on property taxes instead of the state paying “for a sound basic education” for each child…a large chunk of all school costs -no matter where that child lives.

(from documents from the former governor’s  budget- from the CFE lawsuit-from the state constitution- from the proposed executive budget .)

It’s not nice that in typical Albany fashion –when Washington is handing out BIG $$BUCKS $$ -about 700million to any state that has a good plan to improve their public schools, ALBANY COMES UP EMPTY HANDED…everybody  blaming everybody else…

            HELLO GUYS!

Has it escaped everyone’s attention that the future of education should have been an ongoing discussion in Albany and should have produced a zillion possible alternatives that could have been sent to Washington in ten minutes?????

Wouldn’t you think these ideas to improve education would already be in the files??

Wouldn’t you imagine that there would be ongoing planning years in advance for educational change and progress?

Wouldn’t you expect that with all the education think tanks in this state it would have been easy to have gotten a pretty good submission for the feds in an hour or two…all set to go…all the contentious bits worked out long ago…??

Wouldn’t any intelligent government have convened all the stakeholders in education -which is pretty much everyone- a long time ago… and come up with ideas for the educational future of our children????—–

Plans for good public charter schools (not the kind that would milk public funds for big profits),

Plans for new types of multi-use buildings for education,

Ideas for new types of assessments (instead of the factory standardized test models) of both teachers and students,

Ideas for ways to cut down administrative costs,

Different grouping models -not just all the kids in the same age groups glued together until somebody gets “left back”,

And speaking of “left back”…

BUT YOU GET THE IDEA….Albany pols never plan for the future…which is why they’ll find





January 23, 2010

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 5:39 pm


Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 5:34 pm

“…….the overall collaboration of state and local taxes results in an unfair, regressive system. This is caused by a significant reliance on sales, excise, and property taxes, which have a disproportionate impact on lower and middle-income taxpayers.”

From There’s a BETTER CHOICE for NY.

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 5:18 pm



at a meeting sponsored by There’s a BETTER CHOICE for NY .

The purpose of the meeting, convened by Ron Deutsch  (New Yorkers  for Fiscal Fairness (his day job)  and Omnibus Consortium Coordinator)  was  to go over the 2010-2011 Executive budget and to give the state government alternatives for closing the budget gap.

No guys, getting rid of county government and state government was not on the agenda…(although the county government system is definitely expendable and easily the most useless…but I digress.)

I will give you a link to the “Better Choices” asap…until then let me tell you that they were thoughtful and good ways to close the NYS budget gap without sacrificing services and further screwing up the lives of citizens.

Another term you might need defined is “budget director.”

Bob Megna, the budget director, who was the guest speaker , works for the executive branch (governor) preparing the executive budget.

Although Bob is a smart (and nice) guy, the budget does not reflect his choices… except that he probably has  a lot of opportunity to advise-as in “Okay” or “Are you effing crazy?!!

 The last wouldn’t  be  evoked often because he seems calm and judicious in his  demeanor. The budget director’s business is to take the choices made by the executive branch and organize and crunch the numbers.

Mr. Megna-unlike his counterpart in the US government – is not confirmed by the legislative branch. He works for the governor and his budget represents the governor’s ideas and philosophy…not his own… lest you are motivated to find Mr. Megna and give him a thrashing….don’t. 

He had the guts to appear before a group of people, many of whom were injured  by  parts of the budget, and try to explain those parts… it wasn’t easy. 

Also present  were Frank Mauro who can spot a decimal point out of place in a 500 page document, some people who didn’t take kindly to the red tape and cuts that prevented them from helping the homeless, the battered, the workers, the children, and beleaguered citizens of all types …and of course me.

Since Sister Hortense died (at 102)… well…I fear no one (the fifth grade was hell) and have no censor ; so I was not restrained in my objections  to the executive budget…it fails to deliver a single dollar of property tax relief.

 Mr. Megna made a  good point. The choices and  the philosophy behind the budget rest with the elected officials…. And by implication- (my words not his) the ridiculous way the crisis in property taxes has been allowed to fester rests with the politicians.

The people who work in Albany generally have been very helpful …e.g. the Office of Real Property Services does not make the dumb decisions that they have to carry out and they have been vocal in  telling it like it is. Maybe that’s why they will soon be no more.

The politicians-up until now-have been negligent to the point of malfeasance on property taxes.

BUT….Finally we see the legislature gearing up to enter the lists…hopefully on our side. Stay tuned.

So the executive budget goes to the legislature in Albany and its parts are  then savaged, passed, ignored, praised, damned, welcomed ,or spat upon…or all of the above.

I, personally,  had all of those responses to the budget; but since my work rests only in the area of how this budget impacts property taxes , I can say that it did not make my pulse race except in a negative sense.

There was-as I have blogged previously- no change in the budget’s philosophy… that the taxpayers -both owners and renters- weren’t a priority but the “state” was…

… and Albany couldn’t possibly do a thing to help its suffering citizens until the books were cooked …I mean balanced.

Now that the Supreme Court has decided that corporations are just folks after all and their “right” to free speech– AKA buying politicians– shouldn’t be infringed, it’s no wonder that the “state” has become a kind of Golem whose “rights’ and needs far surpass those of the people living in it.

The executive branch in Albany-by its NO RELIEF UNTIL WE HAVE A SIZEABLE BUDGET SURPLUS SOMETIME IN THE 22ND CENTURY AND MAYBE NOT  EVEN THEN PROCLAMATION -continues to aver that homeowners and renters are okay with paying away their lives in property taxes until they are driven out of the state… or out of their homes….or until the tooth fairy gives the state huge budget surpluses. THIS IS NOT A PROPERTY TAX REFORM OR RELIEF PLAN…it’s flummery!

(You can see the budget for yourself on the state website.)

BUT…of interest was the fact that the Omnibus Property Tax Solution written by Frank Mauro and therefore the best ever…was not dismissed  by Mr. Megna. How could it be!!! It is universally acknowledged to be the best solution to the crisis.

Mr Megna simply said-paraphrase– Mr. Mauro hasn’t said how he’ll pay for it.

YIPEE!  Never, ever throw down a gauntlet to arguably the smartest government guru in these 50 states…..Mr. Mauro will undoubtedly show how to pay for it…..

Liz Krueger is also working on funding for the Omnibus Solution…as are we all.

…and unlike the Governor who has been plundering FRANKENSTAR  without substituting anything good in its place…our Omnibus Bill will be  stretched  to make up for Albany’s thrusting into the reform debate the  messed up STAR program.

We need to go a step further… offering taxpayers a choice …. Yes, Omnibus does it all, relief and reform …and MUCH better than anything I’ve ever seen- but if you are among the very few who would be covered by the Omnibus Circuit Breaker and have such special circumstances that you’d get more benefit from STAR than from the CB …you can choose STAR instead.

 So thanks to Mr. Megna for taking the hits…but….An F grade on property tax relief…and there was NO mention of reform whatsoever in the budget.

Ultimately we need Omnibus to reform the whole imbroglio that is the property tax…

More to come.

January 21, 2010

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 12:47 am


Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 12:20 am

I  ( AND OTHER REFORMERS) DO  NOT ENJOY  FINDING  OBJECTIONABLE (OR WORSE) every  utterance  on property tax relief or reform that issues  forth  from the governor’s press office or budget division…but we  have no choice because there hasn’t been a single scrap of real relief or reform from that quarter…on the contrary, his office has demonstrated a total lack of empathy for struggling homeowners and renters…and the latest pronouncement ON FRANKEN-STAR “savings” certainly proves that  point.

Just when you think STARthat pinnacle of legislative lunacy…that wasteful homage to government goofiness….that cheap (but costly) monument to desperately deranged fuzzy math (I could go on but I’ll spare you) could not possibly be any more bedecked with scraps of delusionary thinking (Come on Gioia, don’t hold back…what do you really think of STAR?) the administration in Albany comes up with a STAR “savings” plan which reduces the already insulting “relief” and replaces it with- – NOTHING

Let’s stop stuffing around Albany. Our Omnibus Circuit Breaker was written by the self same Frank Mauro who is arguably the only person alive who can decipher FRANKEN-STAR and he chose to write the Omnibus Property Tax Solution to deliver much better relief AND reform to taxpayers.

It is THE only property tax relief and reform solution that will deliver big, big relief for the bucks….for about the same as F-Star costs… without the administrative waste.

As for always bashing the Gov.’s ideas…I DON’T! Frankly I like a lot of them…just not in the area of property tax relief and reform…and that’s the area I inhabit!  Only that.

Progress demands focus

I like the Gov.’s suggestions on ethics…I do…it would also be ethical to save people’s homes from the tax auction hammer. (Focus, will you please!)

I like his stance on equal treatment  under the law as in the right to marry …I do…the more the merrier …then-at least- same sex married people can lose their homes to tax delinquency as couples… and have a spousal shoulder to cry on just like people who are currently allowed to marry-and lose their homes to property taxes. (I told you I was focused.)

So it isn’t that I criticize the governor because I don’t like him…on the contrary, I do like him and some of his choices … I just don’t like his bad choices for resolving the property tax crisis because his  choices are inimical to our interests as tax- paying citizens.

The governor is consistently invoking his priority which is to balance the state’s finances any way at all on paper….while he ignores the crippling effects of the property tax on the real life balancing act of the people who actually ARE the state

His latest foray into so-called STAR “savings”—-just moving the banana peels around in the Franken-Star rubbish pile … is just one more example of elevating the “state’s needs” over the needs of the people in it.



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