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After living in public housing for 18 of the past 20 years, Mr. and Mrs. William Jefferson Clinton have realized the American Dream. They'll be moving into their new home sometime after Nov. 1.

They chose New York. Welcome, Mr. President -- and don't forget to pay your property taxes.

At least part of your taxpayer-funded salary (we know your wife is currently unemployed, but looking) now will start to flow the other way. By buying into New York, you are about to add a larger personal dimension to your knowledge of taxation.

Of course, had you and the first lady chosen this end of the state, you could have joined the rest of us in leading the nation in that category. But even in Westchester County, the bills are likely to be eye-opening.

Mr. President, we feel your pain. Really, we do. In fact, we've been feeling this particular kind of pain for years. It's a big part of what's holding back economic recovery, at least in upstate New York.

The estimated annual taxes on your new $1.7 million colonial, we're told, are $25,922. New York appreciates your business, but it's only fair to warn you that, by establishing a residence here, you're now on the radar screen of the New York State income tax collectors. Your state tax, of course, is a deduction on your federal tax returns, but be careful what you declare. Most of us just declare, "ouch."

New York is working on this, Mr. President. Believe it or not, taxes are going down. They have to, if we're going to survive the economic competition that's been siphoning off our businesses for years. You're not the only New Yorker with a child living out-of-state.

Your utility bills could be a bit of a stunner, too. The rates are among the highest in the land, which those of us who live closest to the massive hydropower plants of Niagara Falls find somewhat irksome. Despite a lot of talk in state government, they're not going down fast enough.

Despite all its ills, Mr. President, this is still a great state with a lot to offer. We know the governor's a Republican, but you might want to mention those tax bills to the Speaker of the Democratic-controlled Assembly. He has a lot of clout hereabouts, but we're still waiting for his promised Western New York recovery plan.

In the meantime, welcome. Oh, and don't forget to apply for STAR. It's a program that takes the edge off the burdensome school taxes -- but you do have to sign up.

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