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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. Credit: AP / Tim Roske

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.

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.