End the property tax nightmare!

November 30, 2009

Filed under: Updates — gioia @ 10:48 pm


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                      


“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


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… attach faces to the percentage points….it’s just too easy to bury people under an avalanche of numbers.


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.


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