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TWO-TIER TAX SYSTEM IS WORKING WELL

The recent News editorial on the subject of two-tier tax systems was a very thorough theoretical discussion of the issue, but ignored the reality of our town's 12 years of experience with this type of tax system.

I think it is important to remind readers of the reason our Town Board enacted the two-tier tax system in 1986.

A countywide revaluation that year, ordered by the state court, would have resulted in a shift of the tax burden from business and commercial property to residential property.

Because of our town's concentration of heavy industry, this decision would have shifted the tax burden to homeowners and increased property taxes by 30 to 35 percent.

The Town Board, concerned with the fact that our town has a heavy population of senior citizens, opted to mitigate this shift through the state-approved method of a "two-tier" tax system. This action protected homeowners and was the proper decision. Even with this system in place, most large businesses and commercial properties that year still realized a reduction in their tax burdens.

Although there are some inequities in this taxing method -- which could be corrected by the State Legislature -- our town's economic-development record over the past 12 years has been impressive.

Nearly all of our large industrial residents have announced major expansions. General Motors has secured production of the new "world engine," Du Pont and Praxair have expanded their research operations, Dunlop is adding a new production line, FMC is building a new warehouse facility and American Axle has just dedicated a new training and health facility.

For the past two years, our town has been the second-most active area in Western New York for the start-up of new small businesses. A survey of industrial and commercial companies in our town by the Town of Tonawanda Development Corp. found that 89 percent see the town as "a positive location for business," and 65 percent expect their employment to increase over the next three years.

New opportunities also await our waterfront region now that nuclear waste is being removed.

In the real world of property taxation, there is no such thing as a completely fair system. The two-tier tax system did what the board intended -- it protected homeowners. Town officials continue to work with our state representatives to "fine tune" the law to make it more equitable to all taxpayers.

Carl J. Calabrese
Supervisor
Town of Tonawanda

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