Yesterday's Poughkeepsie Journal contained another attack letter on me from the McGuire family again inaccurately skewing my position re: county-level income tax (Weds. it was John; today's it Jan; lol)...
[note-- time has past for letters to PoJo-- so-- send 'em to Freeman!...at firstname.lastname@example.org]
Interesting thing is this-- seems to be fine and dandy with local right-wingers for Republicans like Marc Molinaro & Joel Miller to propose hiking income taxes to cut school property taxes (the real killer)...
[see for yourself: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/?ad=103&sh=story&story=25529 ;
[of course, as usual, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill has the best plan on this, hands-down-- join over 70 others in region signed on to support him on this-- for true tax fairness-- at http://www.petitiononline.com/FAIRTAX !]
But local conservatives go into fits of apoplexy when someone like me merely suggests (when asked at a recent debate) that it might not be a bad idea to allow county residents to vote on a referendum for a local income tax to slash county property taxes to help local homeowners and small businesses-- given the current $50 million county budget gap looming for 2010 (that will almost certainly mean massive budget cuts to crucial county services and/or layoffs and/or property tax hikes unless there's no further delay implementing the many cost-saving ideas I've researched and long proposed below)...
[recall-- http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20091010/NEWS01/910100329 ]
The fact is (as Cahill and Schumer have pointed out) that we in the middle class still pay about twice what millionaires pay as a percentage of their income in state and local taxes-- because property and sales taxes have skyrocketed over last 40 years to make up for huge tax cuts for rich in Albany and D.C.
[see: http://www.itepnet.org/whopays.htm ; http://www.abetterchoiceforny.org/topten_mil.html -- Michael Moore's "Capitalism: A Love Story" refers to tax rates under Ike: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/ILikeIke ]
Well over 70% of all new jobs are from small business; property taxes, not income taxes, are killing them.
[see: http://www.sba.gov/advo/stats/sbfaq.pdf ; Obama was just quoted reminding us all of this as well]
Obama was right last Oct. 15th-- 98 percent of small business owners make less than $250,000 a year.
Click on these three links (and then "view current signatures") for names and comments from 100's across Dutchess for referendum on county-level income tax here-- to slash property taxes(!):
[see: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/Fairness , http://www.petitiononline.com/fairtax
[Fiscal Policy Institute Ex. Dir. Frank Mauro has crunched the numbers on some local possibilities:
http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/dutchessRPTlevies.htm ; http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/dutchess1999and2000.htm ;
http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/dutchess2001.htm ; http://www.fiscalpolicy.org/ImpactatDifferentIncomeLevels.htm .]
p.s. If you've been paying attention to Dealy's statements at debates, his campaign literature, and the attacks on me in letters to the editor in the papers, it's become all too obvious that Dealy and his ilk are bent on resurrecting Tipper Gore's "family values" brigade from the 90's; for shame...fact is that I gave up a $53,000 NYC teaching job in '05 to devote myself wholly to being the best darn county legislator I could be-- and yes, I am only a renter-- but I do quite a bit here around the house to help pay the bills and maintain the house...(sad; seems like G.O.P. do believe in recycling after all-- same attacks from years past, about me living at home with Mom)...[hm....perhaps new legislative initiative for County Legislature in November should be to mandate that widows be abandoned by sons?...am pondering]...
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Nine Innovative Ways to Save Tax Dollars That Pat Dealy is Against....(why?)...(we need open minds!)...
[thought last winter's county budget process was bad?...you ain't seen nothin' yet-- we need these now]
Fact: Dutchess County could easily save $1,000,000 a year for local taxpayers merely by allowing county employees and retirees to be reimbursed for prescription drugs they can have option to get from Canada. Schenectady County has been doing this for five years now-- saving over a million dollars annually with this option-- with a smaller number there of county employees and retirees than compared to here in Dutchess County; G.O.P. Rensselaer County Exec Kathy Jimino spearheaded this there; Albany, St. Lawrence, Lewis counties too; see: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/SaveOnRx .
Fact: Re: electrician licensing, as Co. Leg. Bill McCabe has stated many times, out of four house fires in one year recently in Union Vale alone that completely consumed those homes, three of them were due to electrical wiring (not overloaded cords or outlets)-- according to fire chiefs there themselves.
Fact: Dutchess County will save tax dollars with electrician licensing legislation-- proven already in Putnam, Greene, Rockland and Westchester counties; see: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/SafeWire .
Fact: The Democratic PLA proposal, with a threshold for county construction projects of $3,500,000, would only affect one out of every 20 projects- and a March 2007 due diligence report commissioned by our own county DPW proved $770,000 could be saved with Project Labor Agreement for construction at Emergency Response Center and Highway Garage-- yet no PLA happened.
Fact: Dutchess County could easily save $1,000,000 a year with a bail loan fund here for some in our jail now merely accused of nonviolent misdemeanors (even the Daily Freeman strongly recommended this four years ago in response to idiotic, over-the-top G.O.P. attacks on this common-sense idea). Tompkins County's United Way agency Opportunities, Alternatives, and Resources (long supported by G.O.P. and Dems there) saved $466,000 last year alone in boarding-out costs (5300 incarceration days) for taxpayers there-- bailing out 70 there merely accused of nonviolent misdemeanors. Late last month there were still literally 55 inmates here in our own county jail unable to find enough funding in their support network to make bail of $2000 or less (roughly the ceiling for bail loans in Tompkins County). The vast majority of the judges in Dutchess County are Republican; anyone with bail set at $2000 or less is clearly not a serious threat to safety. Dutchess County now spends literally millions of dollars annually housing out inmates to facilities in other counties Often the vast majority of Dutchess County inmates being boarded out are unsentenced (not convicted yet)-- and yes, even Dutchess County Sheriff Butch Anderson recently told me personally he was upset about the increasing waste of taxpayer dollars with so many people sitting in our county jail that used to be bailed out for low amounts by employers or family-- but aren't any more because of the recession: http://www.OARTompkins.com .
90 inmates a day right now are being housed out to jails in other counties-- at a cost of well over $100 a day-- multiply $9000 times 365 days in a year-- that's literally over three million dollars: unsustainable!
Fact: Dutchess County could save hundreds of thousands annually on electric bills for county buildings if the county joined the Municipal Electricity and Gas Alliance-- as Putnam, Ulster, Sullivan, 20 other counties across NY have done; NYS Association of Counties endorsed: http://www.MEGAEnergy.org .
[I actually got a resolution passed for this to happen last year; no PoJo coverage; Co. Exec ignored.]
Fact: A March 2007 due diligence report commissioned by our own county's Department of Public Works proved $770,000 could be saved with a Project Labor Agreement for construction at our county's Emergency Response Center & Highway Garage-- yet no Project Labor Agreement happened; note as well-- $3.5 million threshold means only 1 of every 20 county construction projects would be affected.
[see: http://dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2009/09/facts-re-plas-electrician-licensing.html ;
Fact: Literally millions of our county tax dollars are spent annually on county contracts, given to companies (often from outside Dutchess County), who we're supposed to believe it's all a coincidence that they've often repeatedly made very large donations to the County Executive and/or the Dutchess County Republican Committee, according to public records at our County Comptroller's office and our county's Board of Elections. Even the Poughkeepsie Journal has twice now strongly editorialized for this to be addressed with a law here as in Rockland County-- a $100 limit on donations from vendors.
[see: http://dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2009/08/re-pay-to-play-in-dutchess-county-brand.html ]
Fact: Zero-waste approach to resource recovery saves tax dollars, create green jobs, cut carbon levels.
"Worcester (MA), Portland (OR), Seattle/King County (WA), Hawaii County, Oakland, and Los Angeles are all examples of communities that have rejected incineration, invested in recycling and composting, and have saved tax dollars as the costs of solid waste management have gone down. This has been accomplished because solid waste has been reduced by diverting materials to the private sector which hire workers, pay taxes and expand the local tax base. For example, Oakland has created over 1000 jobs in the last decade as a result of a rejected incinerator there and investing in recycling and composting. Austin, Texas in l986 rejected an incinerator and invested in recycling and composting. They lost $22 million when they cancelled the plant-- but saved $120 million over the 20-year proposed life of the plant." [Institute for Local Self-Reliance President Neil Seldman-- http://www.ILSR.org ]
[see recent Daily Freeman on this:
Fact: The current costs for our Resource Recovery Agency are out of control-- over six million dollars to be paid this year on top of $11 million to be paid by system users. This adds up to a total cost of $125/ton-- much higher than any other publicly owned incinerator of the same size in the state (usually about $85/ton)-- and unlike all other publicly owned facilities, these costs do not pay off all of our county incinerator's debt; this debt goes on well after the incinerator's service agreements.
Fact: I led investigation of our county's Resource Recovery Agency this year-- and move to put $4.7 million of their budget into a special line in the 2009 budget-- to have only as little as possible allocated.
Fact: Ten years ago in a column I wrote for the Taconic Papers I exposed how $53 million was being flushed down the drain by our county's Resource Recovery Agency by refinancing our county incinerator through First Albany Bank without going proper Request for Proposal bidding-out process.
Fact: I voted in 2007 with Democratic Caucus against wasting millions of tax dollars by extending life of Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency bonds to 2027.
[and why did Dealy lie @ 9/23 debate saying the Green Ribbon report calls for shutting down DCRRA?
and why did Dealy lie @ 9/23 debate saying the Green Ribbon report calls for 2 new landfills in county?
see: http://dutchessdemocracy.blogspot.com/2009/09/dealy-lies-3x-in-debate-fact-is-green.html ;
Green Ribbon report here-- http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/assets/pdf/BK142669916.PDF ]
Recall these great investigative exposé pieces from Pok. Journal's MB Pfeiffer over last several months:
May 10th: "Dutchess County Resource Recovery Agency: Inefficient, Expensive, and in Debt"
May 31st: "Resource Recovery Agency: Padded Budgets or Solid Plans? County Subsidy Total is $5.4 Million More Than Needed Since '03"
July 12th: "No Bid Deals Might Add to Agency's Financial Trouble"
Fact: Zero-waste expands tax base in private sector-- "On per-ton basis, sorting/processing recyclables alone sustain 10 times more jobs than landfilling or incineration." [Institute for Local Self-Reliance]
[see: http://www.ilsr.org/recycling/recyclingmeansbusiness.html ]
Fact: More than two thirds of the materials we use are still burned or buried, despite fact we have technical capacity to cost-effectively recycle, reuse, or compost 90% of what we waste.
[see http://www.StopTrashingtheClimate.org ]
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Fifteen MORE Ways to Save Tax Dollars in Dutchess County (re: $50M budget gap; avoid tax hike!)...
1. Robust system of home care for seniors-- not institutionalization (avoid nursing homes if possible)
[ http://www.NYSenior.org; http://www.ADAPT.org (this came up at recent Taconic Resources forum)]
2. Health benefits consortium for towns, cities, and villages with county to save on employee costs
[see: http://www.tompkins-co.org/news/detail.aspx?ContentID=1111 -- as in Tompkins County; see:
3. Home Heating Oil Cooperative to help homeowners save on heating oil (as in Town of Cortlandt)
4. Keep lever voting machines (19 counties passed resolution since mine passed last Dec.)
[see: http://nylevers.wordpress.com/ http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/save_ny_levers help Andi]
5. Dutchess County Green Homes Program to make energy-efficiency retrofits, solar more available
[see http://www.LIGreenHomes.com ; http://www.CambridgeEnergyAlliance.org -- as in Babylon, L.I.]
6. Sustainable Energy Financing Districts for solar panels on homes (assessment on tax bills: Berkeley)
[ http://www.ci.berkeley.ca.us/mayor/GHG/SEFD-summary.htm ; http://www.PetitionOnline.com/SOLAR ]
7. TimeBank for area-- bartering network for community so unemployed folks with skills can find work
[see http://www.TimeBanks.org ; http://www.WoodstockTimeBank.org ]
8. Follow recent Northern Dutchess Alliance recommendation for "Community Reinvestment Report"
[see: http://www.northerndutchess.org/images/NDABlueprintWeb.pdf (see p. 82); banks accountable]
9. Reform county investment policy: make banks doing business w/county to report home loan policies
[see: http://www.co.rockland.ny.us/Legislature/LNews/09/021709.pdf (Rockland passed unanimously)]
10. Save tax dollars spent on services for homeless by keeping families in homes (and not foreclosed)-- with a pre-foreclosure mediation program similar to the extremely successful Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion program in Philadelphia (over 80% effective in keeping homeowners in houses).
[see: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/us/28philadelphia.html ; http://www.ACORN.org ]
11. Save tax dollars by investing in quality pre-kindergarten-- literally $17 for every $1 invested
[see: http://www.fightcrime.org/ny/nyissue_earlyed.php , http://www.winningbeginningny.org ]
12. Save a million dollars annually with bail loan fund for some accused of nonviolent misdemeanors
[see http://www.OARTompkins.com -- United Way agency in Tompkins has safely done this for years]
13. Save tax dollars: community-based intervention for low-risk youth-- as in Orange, Rensselaer Co.'s
[see: http://www.fightcrime.org/ny/jjevent.php , http://www.dys.ohio.gov/dysweb/ReclaimOhio.aspx ]
14. Save tax dollars housing homeless to keep out of jail, hospitals, mental hospital-- as in Westchester
[see: http://www.PetitionOnline.com/House1st , http://www.PathwaystoHousing.org ]
15. Save tax dollars to cut recidivism: job training, counseling, drug treatment Brooklyn, Lancaster, PA
[ http://www.petitiononline.com/comalert http://www.petitiononline.com/jobcourt http://www.PYHIT.com ]