Port Henry Tom Scozzafava supports the governor’s proposals to limit property tax increases, but he wishes the state legislature would go further.
“Don’t get me wrong,” the Moriah supervisor said. “I applaud the governor for trying to reduce the property tax burden. I just think the property tax system is antiquated. It’s not fair. It’s the most regressive tax there is.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a property tax freeze for municipalities and school districts that remain under the state’s 2 percent tax cap two consecutive years and who demonstrate cost savings through shared services.
In 2011 the state, under Cuomo’s direction, adopted a 2 percent tax cap for local municipalities and school districts.
“That’s all good,” Scozzafava said, “but we need real property tax reform. When the property tax system was adopted more than 100 years ago property was a sign of wealth. That’s not true any longer.
“The property tax system wasn’t designed to pay for all the services local government now provides,” he said. “A hundred years ago municipalities weren’t paying for Little League fields, youth programs, senior citizen programs, street lights, wastewater treatment — you name it. The property tax was never meant to pay for everything we do today.”
The property tax is also unfair in many cases, the supervisor said. He used a town highway budget, which typically accounts for 50-60 percent of a town budget, as an example.
Person A lives in a home assessed for $100,000. He does not own a car and does not drive.
Person B lives in a home assessed at $50,000. He owns a car and drives regularly, commuting 50 miles a day to and from work.
In that scenario, Scozzafava pointed out, the person who does not use roads pays twice as twice as much highway tax as the person who does.