Do we somehow now imagine that it wasn’t OK for Britain to tax us without representation or press our sailors into service to the Crown, but it’s OK if we tax each other without representation or expect police service for free?
Let’s be fair. The towns that tax the village of Saranac Lake are in a tough spot. Fifty percent or more of their budget is caused by unfunded state mandates. The problem is broken at the state level. But is it correct to tax anyone or anything just because we can? Where does that end? Taxes are necessary for legitimate government activity, but in America they should never be levied without getting a legitimate service in return!
There have been a plethora of politicians who have held hearings about the problem. Elected officials at every level acknowledging the problem is crippling their ability to govern effectively. However, once the hearings are over, nothing really changes.
Third, as a minimum the village of Saranac Lake should either receive reimbursement for its police response to neighboring municipalities. This should be in the form of offsets to its tax bill, or direct payment for those services when rendered outside village municipal bounds.
Fourth, the state must then pass significant mandate reform legislation, starting with an all-out assault on the multi-billion dollar problem of Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse. This should be followed in short order by an amendment to our state constitution outlawing unfunded mandates. We cannot continue to pay lip service to this problem.
Finally, we must challenge the political status quo. One certain way to fix this problem is by making Saranac Lake a city. I know there is little political will for this amongst several of the region’s long-time politicians, but that, too, can be changed.
Dave Kimmel is a Cadyville businessman. He is running for member of the Assembly in the 115th Assembly District which includes Clinton and Franklin County as well as the towns of Brasher, Lawrence, Hopkinton, and Piercefield in St. Lawrence County.