It has been a recurring message from Gov. Cuomo for years that town and village municipalities are the problem for high taxes in New York State. Well, I am here to say the governor is wrong and does not know what he is talking about. When was the last time he sat down with the supervisors from Monroe County to talk about taxes or any other problem like the Safe Act? The answer to that question would be never.
The town of Webster has intermunicipal agreements with the village of Webster, county of Monroe, the Webster Central School District and New York State to share equipment and employees whenever needed which save each municipality money. When was the last time you saw a Monroe County plow truck plowing snow? You will not because they do not have any trucks because the towns and villages plow the county roads under a municipality agreement. The town of Webster and village of Webster constantly share equipment related to highway and sewer as we both strive to save taxpayers’ dollars. We have plans in place for efficiency, but the governor fails to understand how these plans work or saves the towns and villages money.
In the whole content of Cuomo’s speech, he never once mentions what is at the heart of the high taxes in every town in Monroe County, which would be school taxes. Right here in Webster the 2017 tax dollar is spent like this: 13 percent for town taxes, 25 percent for Monroe County taxes and 62 percent for Webster Central School District taxes. So, governor, who is spending all the money? It certainly is not the town of Webster, but you want us to cut our 13 percent while you continue to give the school district millions of dollars in state aid while school enrollment in Webster is down over 300 students since 2010.
How about the fact that the Webster Central School District, for 2016-17, is receiving $47-plus million in state/Boards of Cooperative Educational Services Aid and the town of Webster receives just over $100,000 in state aid. This just goes to show Webster residents that your tax dollars are supporting the services that you want and need. The state helps out the town of Webster very little in our budget needs yet the governor wants us to cut taxes.
Or better yet Gov. Cuomo, how about getting the programs that you have already initiated to work properly? The latest failure is the property tax relief check that many Webster residents have not received yet and need to spend hours on the phone to try and figure out where their rebate check is. Or perhaps governor you could figure out the new Star program where residents are not getting the proper refunds back for their school taxes. Or, even better, how about taking Star away from the local authorities and back to the state so the towns would not have to deal with the high costs of these burdensome programs you put into place which are called state mandates? Instead you might consider lowering New York State taxes and income taxes across the state instead of playing games with all these rebate programs before election time to enhance your chances of winning again.
The town of Webster runs a tight budget here and the town board monitors revenues and expenses very carefully to maintain a reasonable and constant tax rate that provides the needed services to our community. In my 22 years on the town board, the town tax rate has gone up 68 cents per thousand; that is an average 3 cents per thousand over 22 years. Show me any other entity like Monroe County, Webster School District or New York State that has a record like that or how someone else could improve on that record.
If Cuomo would like to understand Webster town government or town government in Monroe County, there is a monthly meeting of the 19 municipalities, and I am sure he would be welcomed to attend and hear firsthand how municipalities really work.
As always, if you have any questions about your town government, please feel free to contact me during regular business hours at 585-872-7068; or email me anytime at supervisor@ci.webster.ny.us.