Minor error gets corrected

Are we surprised that a $1,000 billing error in Albany is enough to make the headlines? Not really when you consider how state leaders for years have tossed around millions and billions of dollars for pay raises and school expansions projects in the past decade that were not needed.

But a little more than $1,000 is the amount state Sen. Catharine Young has paid back after an error by the town of North Greenbush assessor, which gave her a tax-exemption on a condo she owns in the Albany area. Young was made aware of the error last week and corrected it quickly.

“I immediately filed all of the proper legal documents to correct the situation when I learned what happened,” she said in a statement last week. “Although we did not apply for the exemption, I felt strongly that the money should be reimbursed right away. The exemption came to about $200 per year, and the full amount has been paid with interest.”

Our newspaper was just as guilty as the rest of the media outlets across the state and Western New York for making this story out to be bigger than it really was. We did not break the story, but once it appeared in the Times Union of Albany, it was statewide and very high interest Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

But in the big picture, the amount is equal to one needle in 10 haystacks of errors. For instance, if the village of Forestville or Brocton were to misplace $1,000, it would not make statewide news. Heck, Silver Creek’s purchase of its Department of Public Works facility for more than double its assessed value in the town of Hanover – not called illegal by the comptroller’s office, but shady looking nonetheless – has yet to make statewide news.

That building and the property cost $725,000. It may ultimately cost village taxpayers more.

Silver Creek’s approval of purchasing questionable land is one of the major problems with our governments that cannot get a handle on spending. That is big news.

What happened to Young, however, was a minor error. One our senator has already repaid.