Our blessing for tax hikes
When the concept was introduced in the late 1990s, it seemed appealing. Residents in all districts – other than the large five cities in the state – could vote “yes” or “no” to their school budget.
Voting “no,” however, was never really “no.” It meant, instead, the district would either put together another budget for vote or approve a contingency budget, which would decrease spending by about 2 percent.
So despite all the preparation by individual districts – and we have a full slate of information on area school budgets inside today’s paper – your vote is meaningless.
Because if you ask your neighbor or a friend what the state and region’s biggest detriment is, they are likely to respond that it’s the high taxes. But they are never really YOUR high taxes, are they? The high-taxes blame gets pointed to Albany.
Even school administrators have us believe so. Who do they blame when taxes go up? The state because their district is somehow being shortchanged on aid.
Don’t forget, however, that small districts here and across New York that are shedding programs, sports and extracurricular activities are enabled by the 65 percent to 75 percent of state aid. Yet when funding does not come in high enough, administrators indict Albany.
With children, we refer to it as whining.
So when voters head to the polls, their habit – and the record speaks for itself with 95 percent of the proposals passing in 2013 – is to vote “yes.” Many of the voters, we note, are more engaged in school than in county, local or state government.
That is because school is a community.
So while we believe an informed voter is the best voter, we know a majority of the voters believed we are overtaxed.
Guess what the highest tax burden comes from? It is the schools.
And while outsiders and private investors shake their heads in disbelief over our high tax burden, residents still turn out in good numbers to punish themselves annually with a “yes” to higher taxes at the ballot box.
In simple terms, it is a self-inflicted wound.