Sunday, May 1, 2011

Long Island Property Taxes out of control

The 2008 Long Island Index, a yearly analysis of data about Long Island, reports that 81 percent of Long Islanders classify high property taxes as a very serious or extremely serious problem. Between 1997 and 2005, Long Island property taxes increased 14 percentage points above the rate of inflation, according to the report. It's now 2011 and we still have the same issue and gets getting even worse.

BRIAN SCHNECK paid $5,500 in property taxes on his three-bedroom ranch in Lake Grove back in 1997. This year, his bill was nearly double that. My taxes have increased 100 percent in 11 years,” Mr. Schneck told a state panel last week at the Suffolk County Legislature building here. “I only wish my salary had increased 100 percent.”

Mr. Schneck, a former auto mechanic and now a vice president for the local United Auto Workers union, spoke at the first public meeting on Long Island of the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief. The panel was appointed in January to address public outrage over soaring property taxes and to explore ways to lower them.

Speakers at the meeting wasted no time in expressing their frustrations — notably with past expenditures they saw as unnecessary or even profligate. An example of the former was the cost to localities of state-mandated programs imposed without state financing; as an example of the latter, speakers pointed to the Roslyn school district’s $11.2 million embezzlement scandal.

More broadly, participants took aim at property tax caps, one of the panel’s proposed solutions to the tax problem. The panel, headed by Thomas R. Suozzi, the Nassau County executive, promotes the caps as a way to limit the annual property tax increase to a certain percentage. But among educators, assessors and legislators who addressed the meeting, some said other solutions might work better. One idea was to place a limit — called a circuit breaker — on property tax by making it a percentage of a homeowner’s income; another was to consolidate providers of teacher pensions and health care across the state; a third was to tax income rather than property to finance schools.

That last proposal was accompanied by facts and figures from Harvey B. Levinson, the Nassau County assessor, and he received support from several other speakers at the meeting. The commission’s proposal for a cap on property tax increases “doesn’t offer any relief, it just prevents a higher increase,” Mr. Levinson said, adding that the major problem with using property taxes to finance schools is that “the value of a home is not an indicator of a family’s ability to pay school taxes.” An income tax system would be more equitable, Mr. Levinson said, citing tax-rate variations in different school districts as evidence of current inequity. In Levittown, for example, a family living in a $424,000 home would pay $6,392 in school taxes this year. In Hicksville, a family in a house costing the same amount would pay only $2,831. Levittown’s tax rate is the highest of Nassau’s 56 districts, Mr. Levinson said, because home values are nearly all relatively low — below $500,000 — and there are few commercial buildings in the tax base.

Whatever solution is ultimately adopted, it will probably be too little, too late for Ethel Jennings, one attendee of the Hauppauge meeting. Ms. Jennings, 81, who chatted on her way out, said two sisters and many friends had left Long Island for Florida because they couldn’t afford to stay. Property taxes aren’t the only burden, she said; utility prices are too high, as well. As a retiree after more than 30 years as a lab technician, “you want to relax a little, but you can’t,” Ms. Jennings said. “You have to count your pennies.”



Anonymous said...

because of the high on my taxes my house is in forclosure i tried to keep it but i need a reduction on my taxes to continue make the payments i need somebody to help me reduce my taxes.and we pay this high taxes and no even my kids went to public schools somebody has to do somthing about it

Anonymous said...

Nassau County should give free housing away in exchange for a 30-year agreement to pay the out of control taxes. Those people are sitting ducks. Monthly housing expenditure is divided between taxes and mortgage debt service; when the taxes go up 10% each year, the money left over to pay the mortgage decreases by that same 10%. That constitutes an illegal taking and is pure confiscation of homeowner equity. Bastards.

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Long Island Property taxes most important issue, say LIers

No surprise here ! To stop this ridiculous rise in property taxes we have to educate our fellow LIers and contact your representative that they should demand Speaker Silver respond to the pleas of homeowners across the state and support a property tax cap in New York. It has already passed the senate but is being stalled in the Assembly by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Also this year we are seeing some enormous rise in property taxes in school districts such as
William Floyd 12.47% and Seaford 8.99%. Some school districts such as Middle country is resorting to blackmailing its residents. The deal for districts residents is either approved a 6.68% increase or the district is going to force 21.61% increase in tax levy.

Published by THOMAS MAIER at Newsday

By a wide margin, property taxes are the most important issue facing Long Islanders, according to a Newsday / News 12 Long Island / Siena Research Institute Poll. Property taxes were cited overall by 45 percent of respondents, more than twice the 21 percent who cited "availability of good jobs" as the second most pressing issue for Long Islanders. "Property taxes are really an issue here because it keeps the young people from staying on Long Island and it will prevent the older people from staying, too," Tafuri explained.

Property taxes also are a large part of why the 57 percent of those polled said Long Islanders are headed in the "wrong direction" rather than the "right track" in the poll. A similar margin said New York State was headed in the wrong direction as well.

Property taxes are a particularly raw issue in Nassau County, where 53 percent cited them as the biggest issue, compared to 36 percent in Suffolk. Islandwide, Republicans and people 55 years or older complained about property taxes the most. "The Democrats love to spend money and they have to get it from the taxpayers," said one poll respondent, a retired Republican who lives on Nassau County's South Shore.

School costs - the biggest part of property tax bills - were also on the minds of Long Islanders who cited "the quality of public schools" among their top concerns. "The first thing I would do is eliminate tenure for teachers in public schools to cut costs," said another poll respondent, a 50-year-old Garden City man who is a Republican and who did not want to give his name. Although he was happy that his two children attending local schools got a good education there, he said his family's property tax bill has been overwhelming.

Property taxes hit a chord with all respondents, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, location or party affiliation. In addition to identifying the most important issue, the poll underlined the intensity of Long Islanders' general feelings about property taxes, with 86 percent calling the issue "very important" and 11 percent as "somewhat important." Crime, schools, good jobs and health care also received strong reactions, with traffic congestion and the local environment getting milder reactions.