In addition to being a former gubernatorial candidate, this upstate businessman has remained a good government reformer throughout New York State.
Upstate New York pays the highest property taxes in the country. That's not news to any of us who pay taxes here.
The surprise is that our property taxes are significantly — and disproportionately — higher than those paid in other parts of the state. As a result, the price we pay goes beyond the dollars and cents, and hurts our communities, our families and our economy.
According to the New York state Comptroller's Office, property taxes on a home in Rochester valued at $100,000 are just under $4,000. Taxes on a $100,000 home in Yonkers (Westchester County) are less than half that ($1,773), while in Southampton (Suffolk County) they are almost a tenth of that ($456).
The result is a competitive disadvantage or a "property tax surcharge" felt in every part of our lives:
Community: The exorbitant taxes discourage homeownership, one of the keys to a successful and stable community.
Seniors: High property taxes make it hard — and too often impossible — for people on fixed incomes, like many seniors, to stay in their homes.
Economy: To business leaders our property tax burden is like a big red sign that proclaims: Go Away!
Take a large company in the service industry considering relocating. Its officers calculate the cost to live for themselves and their employees and are forced to look elsewhere.
Or consider a large manufacturing company. It adds up the taxes on the headquarters, the manufacturing plant, the warehouses, parking lots and so on and the property taxes on all that land too often sends them elsewhere.
The most insidious part is that high property taxes contribute to a never-ending cycle: as the taxes go up, property values go down. As property values go down, local governments raise property taxes to maintain revenue. As taxes go up ...
Unfortunately, as you know all too well, our staggering property tax burden is on top of an already high personal income tax and some of the highest sales taxes in the nation.
Identifying the problems high property taxes cause, and this striking upstate/downstate disparity, is only the first step. The problem has many causes and has been years in the making and, candidly, may take years to solve.
I urge you to go to www.ResponsibleNewYork.com, sign our petition demanding relief and join our discussion on how to solve this problem.
Golisano, chairman of Paychex Inc., created Responsible New York to help citizens hold elected officials accountable.