Niagara Gazette

November 20, 2012

GUEST VIEW: City council must vote no on tax increase

By Marcia Reinhold
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — Mayor Dyster was correct when he described his “2013 Proposed Budget” as a disaster budget. It is a disaster! A disaster that the taxpayers cannot afford to pay for! A disaster that should have been avoided by putting an end to all unnecessary spending as soon as we stopped receiving casino revenue which was three years ago. A disaster that can be avoided if city council members cut the unnecessary spending.

Unnecessary spending such as subsidizing outside agencies that the taxpayers cannot afford to subsidize including $3.1 million to USA Niagara in which our contract with them is subject to renewal at the end of the year, millions of dollars in consultant fees, hundreds of thousands of dollars in salary increases for appointed positions, raises for exempt employees, a train station that we can’t afford to maintain, $700,000+ on concerts for Hard Rock Café, etc.

Also, taking a lump sum payment of $13.45 million from the New York Power Authority to close the budget gap is not the solution especially when the taxpayers could lose $23.95 million by doing so ($850,000 x 44 years = $37.4 million or a lump sum payment of $13.45 million equals a loss of $23.95 million). The solution is to cut the budget, stop spending money that we do not have, and stop relying on casino revenue that we may never receive, as it is very apparent that our state elected officials and the Seneca Nation have a total disregard for the taxpayers of Niagara Falls. Especially the Seneca Nation, which has withheld $58 million+ and still expect the taxpayers to pay for and provide services for them.

We received a city tax increase in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. This will raise our taxes an astounding 8.3 percent.

The taxpayers cannot afford the outrageous taxes that we have to pay now let alone being forced to pay even more. These continuous tax increases are detrimental to the residents and business owners of this city. They are forcing residents out of their homes and business owners out of business as well as discouraging future residents and businesses from locating here.

This is an economically depressed area where the majority of people are retired and living on a fixed income or receiving some kind of assistance. We have the highest unemployment rate in the state. The median household income in Niagara Falls is one of the lowest in the state yet we are one of the highest taxed cities, in one of the highest taxed counties, in the highest taxed state in the nation.

Our elected officials need to get more creative and do more with less, just like we have been forced to do in our homes for several years now. There shouldn’t be one item in the budget that isn’t an absolute necessity. And the old scare tactic that services will have to be cut unless taxes are raised doesn’t work anymore. We have been hearing that excuse for decades.

We call on City Council members Robert Anderson, Glenn Choolokian, Sam Fruscione, Kristen Grandinetti and Charles Walker to do the right thing and vote no on the proposed tax increase on the already over-taxed residents and business owners of Niagara Falls.

I would like to close by thanking our City Council members for their anticipated cooperation in voting to stop this tax increase or any tax increase.

Marcia Reinhold, Committee to Stop the Reassessments & Continuous Tax Increases