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Letter: County leaders should own up to their decisions on tax rates

County leaders should own up to their decisions on tax rates

I grew up in a household of five children, all close in age. One can imagine the unrelenting cacophony my parents had to tolerate and arbitrate. I remember a technique often employed when one of us was “caught” in some matter. We would quickly point out how one or more of our siblings did the same thing; or better yet, something infinitely worse. The goal, of course, was to deflect attention from, and the looming consequences for, your own offense. Ideally children grow out of that kind of artifice as adults and take responsibility for their own decisions and actions.

Sadly, this is not the case with government. It seems that our big brothers, Albany and Erie County, can’t help but point the finger, year after year, at their little siblings whenever they’re caught raising taxes. Predictably, they seemingly tattle on town taxes as being much worse whenever they themselves increase taxes, asserting that residents pay more and receive less value locally for their tax dollars.

The most recent example can be found in a Feb. 12 Buffalo News article about our county taxes being increased. Once again county leaders claim that county property taxes remain low “compared with city, town and school tax bills.” It’s not my place to speak for cities and schools, but when it comes to most towns, the claim is simply not true. All people have to do is add up and compare their town taxes (don’t include fire) and county taxes (include library). For example, looking at my own bill, my wife and I pay one-third more to Erie County than to our town. And what about value received? We would welcome that assessment.

State and county leaders should own their decisions straight up without trying to deflect attention and responsibility.

Mike Sherry

Council Member, Town of Orchard Park

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