Letter: Service overlap increases taxes

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a rally on the steps of the state Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Tim Roske

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Writer E.J. McMahon disputes Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's contention that New York's thousands of local governments contribute to the state's high taxes ["Cuomo's relentless use of fuzzy math," Opinion, March 24].

McMahon notes that New York's 3,453 local governments -- he subtracts the town-run special districts from Cuomo's figure -- are not more numerous per 1,000 residents than in some low-tax states. But the Long Island Index's analysis suggests that our large number of commissioner-led special districts, as well as our high number of incorporated villages, does lead to higher taxes, as a result of duplication of services and equipment and the loss of any efficiencies of scale.

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We analyzed the growth of one homeowner's property taxes, and the results were representative of the general trend. Property taxes in 2000 were $8,034 and rose 61 percent by 2011 to $12,946.

If taxes had risen by the 32 percent rate of inflation instead during that time, the resulting taxes would have been $10,605. So perhaps the 665 local government entities across Long Island that provide basic services -- fire and ambulance, schools, libraries, garbage, water, police, sewers -- do require some reappraisal if we hope to better control our ever-rising property taxes.

Ann Golob, Garden City

Editor's note: The writer is the director of the Long Island Index, an organization that explores and reports on Long Island issues.


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