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YOUR TURN
A SAMPLE OF RESPONSES RECEIVED FOR LAST WEEK'S QUESTION

Q: In his State of the County address, Erie County Executive Joel Giambra said he plans to raise property taxes next year. Do you think this is justified?

The Buffalo Niagara Association of Realtors supports a plan calling for responsible, efficient and restructured government that provides adequate services without increasing property taxes or the fees associated with the transfer of real property. A financial vortex, driven by increased taxes and unemployment, is perpetuating an exodus of jobs and people. The only remedy is to break this pattern of supporting a shrinking tax base with higher taxes on its remaining residents.

Pete Peterson, President, Buffalo

Niagara Association of Realtors

As an Erie County resident and taxpayer, I cannot support any tax hike proposals. I find myself confused trying to figure out why the only way to get anything done in Erie County, or New York State for that matter, is to raise taxes. Yet at the same time, those who make these proposals are being handsomely paid by the taxpayers. Perhaps the county can put itself on a financial diet.

Rob Meckes, Elma

Is having a root canal procedure justified when deterioration has set in? It can be painful but unavoidable. But at the same time, the dentist removes the rot and decay at the source of the problem. If Giambra raises property taxes, the root of the problem of rot and decay must also be removed. Before any raise in taxes, he should resign. If Giambra is still in office, then the answer is clear, there is no justification.

David Conners, Eggertsville

It seems that Giambra can't get the word "revenue" off his mind. Cutting taxes without cutting spending and letting the $85 million budget surplus slip through the administration's fingers show the ineptness of county government. More cuts can be made: salaries, top administration, etc. Did we ever get back the money from the overpayment for the office furniture? I would hate to see what Giambra will do with the property tax money if it goes through.

Andrew Allen, Hamburg

Recently, the Census Bureau reported that Western New York had one of the greatest population declines in the state between 2000 and 2004. Erie County cannot continue to raise "revenues" from the ever-shrinking taxpaying population, or it will force even more businesses and people to leave. Amherst taxpayers are already facing increases based on higher property evaluations, so a county rate hike would be a double blow.

William Newell, Williamsville

With businesses having departed, the population in perpetual decline and the tax base as limited as it is, just how can Giambra, or anyone else, justify raising taxes? The focus should be on attracting business and industry, and creating a business-friendly atmosphere. Otherwise, we will only see people and businesses continue to leave. Officials should leave the people's money alone, and represent the people's interests better.

Lloyd A. Marshall Jr., Lockport

Why should homeowners pay the price for fiscal mismanagement? I lost my job several years ago, so my husband and I restructured our budget. Guess how? I cut spending. I was happy to do it to have the choice of staying at home with our children. If my property taxes go up significantly, or if we are reassessed so taxes go up, I will be forced to either return to work full time or move.

Karen M. Kren, West Seneca

No, a property tax increase cannot be justified until it has been proven that county government is being run as efficiently and effectively as possible. In a family budget, you can't just "raise revenue" when funds are spent foolishly. You must cut all non-essential items and salaries until the budget is balanced. That is what must be done in Erie County.

Martin F. Brownsey, West Seneca

In this era of political malfeasance, we shouldn't accept any tax increases until citizens have some type of government reform of the taxation process. Giambra is leading us back into the hell-fire of higher taxes. Changing the name to a service fee is still taxation. Threatening residents with higher property taxes for government mismanagement is vindictive and an assault upon our income.

Lee Strickland, Grand Island

Giambra's threat to raise property taxes is the latest example of his bankrupt agenda. Throughout his tenure, internal and external advisers have been ignored while grandiose schemes, like moving ECC downtown, continued unabated. That irresponsibility accelerated our fiscal crisis. If a property tax hike occurs, and it probably will, it should come with accountability strings attached that force the continuation of cost-conscious productivity. That kind of responsible action would justify a tax increase.

Ken Rhodes, Williamsville